Ok, if you had to choose between, let's say, Egypt or the United Kingdom, and predict which country you think is more likely to detain someone for nine hours without cause, I'm willing to bet that most of you would say Egypt. The UK after all doesn't do stuff like that.
However, it turns out, of course, that we apparently do.
Now I can understand why our government - and the American government come to that - would not want some of the information leaked by Edward Snowden to come to light. It is, after all, information regarding the activities of two of the world's biggest security services, and there is bound to be stuff in there that is better off not being printed, not to prevent embarrassment, but for reasons of national security.
But the point remains that if the Government is keen to prevent information being published, for whatever reason, there are legal avenues which it can pursue. The government can issue the newspapers with a little thing called a DA-Notice which means that a newspaper cannot legally print the information that is covered by the notice. It's like an injunction, only with the Official Secrets Act behind it. What they can't do is send a senior civil servant down to a newspaper to strong arm them. And they most certainly cannot drag someone out of the line at Heathrow and detain them under some obscure section of the Terrorism Act.
David Miranda had done nothing wrong, nor was he a suspected terrorist - though apparently under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act that doesn't matter. What he is, is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, a journalist working on the Snowden story, and what he was doing was carrying information that Greenwald needed for his work on that story. Again, if the Government was worried about what that information contained there were perfectly legal ways for them to get hold of it. Detaining Mr Miranda was unnecessary and comes across as a blatant attempt to scare people into not reporting on the Snowden material.
It's not just the Government's decision to go all Orwellian on the Fourth Estate that has me angry though, though that does terrify me. It's the hypocrisy of it that really gets to me. On the one hand, you have a news report about the Government ordering the detention of a journalist for no reason other than that they can, and on the other, you have them condemning Egypt and Syria for their acts of oppression. You can't have it both ways.
If this country is really committed to standing up for those who cannot help themselves and to being a bastion of free speech, free ideas and free thought, then we have to act like it. Sometimes that means letting people do stuff that we don't like or that we don't necessarily want them to do. But if the Government is going to use strong arm tactics to get its way, then it needs to keep its nose out of international affairs. After all, nobody has any reason to listen to a hypocriteSuggest a correction