Human rights activist detained under UK terrorism laws

A Yemeni human rights activist for the charity reprieve was held at the British borders under an anti-terrorism law, Schedule 7, the same used to detain Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda.

Schedule 7 was penned in a vague manner which made it open to abuse. But, as TechDirt points out, even its author Charles Falconer said it is being used in a way that was never intended.

Baraa Shiban claims he was held for an hour on Monday night and questioned over his political views and his charity work. He was headed to the UK to deliver a speech on security, diplomacy and aid.

“I was stunned when the border agent said I was being held simply because I came from Yemen,” Shiban said. “It was even more shocking when he spent the entire time asking me about my human rights work and about Reprieve, the charity I work for. Is the UK the kind of place that human rights activists are fair game for detention, intimidation and interrogation?”

A spokesperson for Sussex police said the force is satisfied “our actions were legitimate, justified and proportionate and were carried out in accordance with the act”.

David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald’s partner, was held at the UK border for hours under Section 7 and had personal items seized by authorities. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, meanwhile, said British agents showed up to the Guardian’s offices to physically destroy hard drives suspected of containing material related to the Edward Snowden leaks. In an editorial, Rusbridger suggested the British state did not understand the global nature of technology, and that simply destroying equipment is no longer enough to silence a story.

Reprieve has done extensive work exposing the CIA’s drone strike programme which it calls the “death penalty without trial” and the “new face of state lawlessness in the name of counter-terrorism”.

Yemen, where Shiban is from, has been a target of the programme.

Earlier this year, banks investigated UK telco BT over alleged links to drone warfare. At the time, Reprieve’s CSR advocate Catherine Gilfedder said: “BT’s response to date has been to refuse to address how the US government uses the company’s systems.  

“If the company is playing a key role in the US’ illegal drone war, then its investors and its customers deserve to know,” Gilfedder said.