British High Court has ruled that police can keep searching data seized from Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda when he was detained for nine hours at a London airport two weeks ago. Miranda's lawyers had tried to block police from searching his documents, which Greenwald obtained from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The British government has aggressively sought to limit Snowden-related reporting, with British Prime Minister David Cameron ordering government officials to force Guardian staff to destroy hard drives containing data Snowden leaked.
The initial search was on national security grounds, The Guardian's Robert Booth explains, and the broader power was granted to investigate whether there was a crime related to terrorism or a breach of the Official Secrets Act — whether there has been "communication of material to an enemy." Oliver Robbins, deputy national security adviser in the Cabinet Office, said in a witness statement that Miranda was carrying 58,000 "highly classified" British intelligence documents, as well as a password written on a piece of paper that allowed police to decrypt one file, according to Daily Telegraph reporter David Barrett. They have not finished decrypting the others. Greenwald responded in a tweet, "UK Govt: their op-sec was sloppy, but we can't get access to their docs because they're all 'heavy encrypted.'"
The documents contain information that would allow British intelligence workers to be identified, the British government says, and it has had to assume the data is in the hands of foreign governments, given his travel to Hong Kong and Russia. Robbins said the encrypted Snowden documents were "highly likely to describe techniques which have been crucial in life-saving counter-terrorist operations, and other intelligence activities vital to UK national security." Their release "would do serious damage to UK national security and ultimately risk lives."
Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, said, "Robbins makes a number of unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims in his witness statement. The way the government has behaved over the past three months belies the picture of urgency and crisis they have painted."
Months after Snowden's first leaks were reported, they're still producing major stories. On Thursday, Snowden's leaks allowed, for the first time ever, the public to see exactly how big the U.S. intelligence budget is, and how that money is spent.
Anonymous intelligence officials claimed to NBC News on Thursday that Snowden impersonated high-level intelligence officials to get his data:
“Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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