“Terrorism” as a concept is a true black box and its definitions is freely and openly determined according to the convenience of certain state and corporate interests. It has become an excuse in current legal systems around the world – and, consequently, for police and border control forces – to skip citizen and human rights in investigations and check points, allegedly for the sake of “national security” – another obscure term.
In recent years, after the phenomenon of Wikileaks and, more recently, the Snowden revelations, we have witnessed the increase in the attempts to use terrorism-based law and regulations against journalists and whistleblowers. In one of the most notorious cases, David Miranda was detained for 9 hours at Heathrow airport during a trip from Germany to Brazil, after a meeting with filmmaker Laura Poitras. David Miranda has knowingly been helping her and journalist Glenn Greenwald in publishing the documents carefully released by Edward Snowden.
British officers used what is officially known as stop powers in schedule 7 of the UK Terrorism Act 2000. Apparently 85,000 travellers a year are “randomly” stopped at British ports and airports under this legal justification. And guess what are the allegations used by officers to invoque schedule 7? A suspicion of a person’s involvement in “terrorism”. Miranda appealed against his detention and yesterday the Court of Appeal’s ruling established that, although his detention was considered lawful, the powers contained in schedule 7 are flawed and that the Terrorism Act is incompatible with European convention on human rights. This is being seen by many, including Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden, as an important win for press freedom.
According to the ruling, the government and the parliament will have to re-examine the act and the (considered) broad definition of terrorism.