The Chartered Institute of Journalists has called on the security authorities to explain why they questioned a journalist’s partner for nine hours under anti-terror laws.
David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained as he passed through Heathrow airport en route to the couple’s home in Rio de Janeiro.
So far, the authorities have refused to justify the action, issuing only bland, factual statements, but Downing Street said: ”It is for the police to decide when [the use of Schedule 7] is necessary and proportionate to use these powers.”
CIoJ president Charlie Harris said: “This comment is truly chilling, implying that the police are unaccountable to the public and Parliament, and are above challenge and complaint.
“There may be good reasons why Mr Miranda was detained without access to a lawyer for the full time allowed under the law, an extremely rare occurrence, although it is hard to imagine what they may be.
“But unless the authorities explain themselves, it is hard not to believe that this was a blatant, if ham-fisted, attempt to intimidate a journalist, and a newspaper, who has caused profound embarrassment to the UK and US governments.
“One of the police’s favourite shibboleths when fobbing off public concern about abuse of their powers, is ‘If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of’.
“If the police truly believe this, it must apply to them as well.”