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UK’s use of Schedule 7 powers against David Miranda breached human rights obligations

Nearly two years after the High Court in London found that the nine-hour detention of David Miranda at Heathrow Airport had been lawful, the Court of Appeal has issued an [important rulingfinding the UK in breach of its international human rights obligations, particularly regarding the freedom of the press. In a rare move, the court issued a Declaration of Incompatibility on Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 – the closest an English court can get to striking a law down.

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David Miranda loses legal challenge

The High Court in London has ruled that it is acceptable to detain journalists under terrorism legislation.

David Miranda is the partner of former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first reported on Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing about the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. On 18 August 2013, he was detained at Heathrow airport while changing planes on a trip between Heathrow and Rio de Janeiro. Miranda was questioned for just under the statutory limit of nine hours, was forced to give over passwords, had personal electronic equipment confiscated and not allowed to speak to his solicitor until eight hours had passed.

The UK Government’s attempts to prevent reporting on the Snowden revelations – which include ordering the destruction of the Guardian’s hard drives – have generated sustained international criticism. The World Association of Newspaper and News Publishers launched an unprecedented mission to the UK to investigate press freedom issues just last month.

David Miranda’s lawyers Bindmans have announced that he will be appealing today’s judgment. Miranda was not given an automatic right of appeal, so it is up to the Court of Appeal itself to decide whether to grant a hearing.

Permission to appeal was eventually granted in May 2014.

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