Icelandic journalists and reporters sent a letter this morning to David Cameron, demanding that British authorities honour freedom of the press in light of the recent detaining of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner.
David Miranda was detained and questioned for nine hours at Heathrow airport last week under British laws on terrorism due to his association with the journalist who broke the story about US and UK’s mass surveillance programme, disclosed by Edward Snowden.
The Association of Broadcast Journalists, Union of Icelandic Journalists and the Icelandic Center for Investigative Journalism – ICIJ, sent UK Prime Minister David Cameron the resolution in protest.
“It’s a rather unusual way of attacking the free press, questioning a journalist’s partner because of something that the journalist wrote,” Hallgrímur Indriðason, head of The Association of Broadcast Journalism, told Grapevine.
“We feel it’s crossing the line, involving a family member. Also, it was done using the British laws on terrorism, laws that are meant for an entirely different purpose. We feel it was done to basically to hinder or intimidate journalists who seek information on a certain matter and we feel there’s every reason to bring that to the attention of British authorities,” Hallgrímur said.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, chairman of ICIJ and WikiLeaks affiliate and spokesman, agrees with Hallgrímur. “These serious events in the UK are a phase in direct attacks on journalists that have been escalating in recent times. Not only are sources and whistle blowers persecuted and prosecuted but the journalists working with them as well. This is unprecedented and signals the most vicious attack on the free press in decades. It is imperative that journalist all over the world unite against this serious tendency. Democracy is at stake.”
Read the full resolution below:
“We are deeply concerned over the response of British authorities to Edward Snowden’s exposures and believe it embodies an attack on freedom of the press and its duties to inform the public. Abuse of British terrorism laws to retain David Miranda, spouse of The Guardian journalist, is an inexcusable assault on journalism. Reports of how Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian editor, was intimidated by authorities and the secret service, to destroy data, are proof of vicious and unnecessary coercion. We condemn such conduct and demand that British authorities honour press freedom and freedom of speech, in this case just as in others.”