On appeal to block access to information contained in the computers

The High Court, London, granted a limited injunction to David Miranda, 28 — detained and interrogated last Sunday for nine hours by the British police at Heathrow airport as a potential security threat — on his appeal to block access to the information contained in the computers and other electronic gadgets that were forcibly taken away from him by the police while in detention.

The High Court’s injunction stops the government and police from “inspecting, copying or sharing data”, but has allowed them to examine if the seized material contained anything that could compromise national security, or if it establishes that Mr. Miranda was involved in any act of terrorism.

Though it imposes some restrictions on what the government can do with the material — it cannot for example share it with a foreign government — the injunction is a setback for the group of journalists, that include columnist Glen Greenwald and the film-maker Laura Poitras, who have at considerable risk to themselves obtained and interpreted the mass of classified data on the U.S. and the U.K. surveillance systems, in a series of reports in The Guardian.

The police have already initiated a criminal investigation into the “tens of thousands” of pages of data that was taken from David Miranda, according to Jonathan Laidlaw QC, the lawyer for the Metropolitan police. He has claimed that the material is “highly sensitive” and that its disclosure would be “gravely injurious to public safety.”

His lawyers, while seeking the injunction, had also argued that his detention at Heathrow for nine hours under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act was unlawful. There will be a full hearing on continuing police inspection on August 30.

AP has reported that a leading human rights organisation in Europe has raised concerns over the attack on press freedom that Mr. Miranda’s arrest signals. General Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary of the Council of Europe, in an open letter to British Home Secretary Theresa May said the use of such measures “may have a potentially chilling effect on journalists’ freedom of expression,” and wanted to know how her government’s actions were in tune with European law.

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