26 August 2013, 17:26

European newspapers denounce UK intimidation of journalists in NSA affair

Transfer point at Heathrow airport, where UK authorities detained David Miranda.

Transfer point at Heathrow airport, where UK authorities detained David Miranda.

Transfer point at Heathrow airport, where UK authorities detained David Miranda.

by Elly Mui

WASHINGTON (VOR)— The detainment of Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald's partner earlier this month garnered widespread public criticism over the UK government's infringement of free press rights.

Last week, the British government officially launched a criminal investigation over intelligence leaks published in the Guardian newspaper. In response, this past weekend, editors from four major European newspapers published an open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron calling for his government to renounce the intimidation it has been pursuing against journalists.

VOR’s Elly Mui has more on the story...

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Four editors-in-chief of prominent Nordic publications question in their letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron whether democracy is truly being upheld when the government's actions seem to show otherwise.

They write, "...events in Great Britain over the past week give rise to deep concern. We may differ on where to draw the line and strike the right balance, but we should not differ in our determination to protect an open debate about these essential questions."

The editors are talking about the right of the press to investigate and criticize the government's surviellance program. Actions like arresting Glen Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, as well as criminal investigations into the Guardian's publication of intelligence information may restrict the ability of the press to do their jobs.

Former CIA officer Barry Eisler says that a free press is needed for transparency.
Earlier this month President Barack Obama seemed to agree... before brushing off concerns.

However, the President also noted the importance of the NSA program, saying that they are doing what is in the best interest of the public by preventing possible terrorist attacks.

Yet, a new report by the German newspaper Der Speigel reveals that the NSA was also monitoring organizations that cannot be construed as terrorist, ranging from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the United Nations to the EU.

Eisler says that the government's need for secrecy comes from its thirst for power.

He adds that Greenwald and American documentary film director Laura Poitras were denied ordinary means of communication such as email and secure chats due to their connection to classified intelligence information.

He also says that Miranda became a personal carrier for both Greenwald and Poitras through encrypted thumb drives that made it difficult for the government to track.

Eisler says that the government's detainment of Miranda was done with a purpose, and that the UK and US governments most likely coordinated in the detainment of Miranda.

Eisler says that the government is using a tactic against journalists it normally reserves for terrorists. That tactic is called "deny and disrupt" which attempts to scare individuals or groups into using more basic forms of communication, such as human carriers.

The four European editors end their letter by asking for Prime Minister Cameron to rethink his actions and become once again one of “the leading defenders of the free press”.

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