In a society where journalists and their sources are scrutinized for going against the current of propaganda and government control, how can we know there will be any truth left for us down the road? Free speech and freedom of the press. These are two things that may very well be fictional in the future. With the influential and life changing actions of Edward Snowden, Britain and the U.S have banded together to make the line between “terrorism” and “journalism” almost indistinguishable. The UK Terrorism Act of 2000, originally implemented to protect our country from radicals has now got the public and it’s governments guessing between journalists and terrorists. This act defines terrorism as an act or threat “designed to influence the government”, that “is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause” and "that would pose a “serious risk” to the health or safety of a section of the public." The UK government have persisted with the line that this risk is present with the disclosure of any “classified” documents. The act also states “the government” can mean a government of any country; in this incidence, namely the US. Subsequently, the British government has opened investigations into anyone who previously worked with Snowden, and used this as a pretext to enter the Guardian’s offices and demand the destruction of their Snowden-related hard drives. David Miranda, assisting journalist Glenn Greenwald (former Guardian worker), was travelling through Heathrow airport, and detained for nine hours under the Terrorism Act under schedule 7, back in August 2013. This compels all those who fall under it to tell all information they know and to pass on any documents they possess. Snowden passed on “thousands of files” to Miranda v(who since wrote many stories concerning the UK and US authorities and their surveillance systems.) These were systems that gave the UK and US full monitoring of it’s citizens through the company GCHQ), and he has since attempted to speak out against this gross misconduct through the UK legal system. However, he was rewarded with a blatant ignorance to any freedom of expression in the European convention on human rights. What does this mean for us?
If the UK legal system is now flexing it’s muscles to take away our information, force us to give up passwords, and destroy our documents, what does this mean for our sources? What does this mean for our “permitted” content? If those with truthful information are being stopped at our front door and 'frisked,' how do we know any information we do manage to receive hasn't already been tainted in order to protect the government’s view of “truth”? Many associates of Edward Snowden have been advised by their legal aids not to return to the United Kingdom, for fear of being stripped of all viable sources in a similar manner to David Miranda. Several of these people work for The Guardian. Even Jesselyn Radack, Snowden’s US legal advisor, was recently detained concerning Snowden and Julian Assange (another famed “whistle blower”). These detainments under schedule 7 are risking the people, their sources and their integrity. “Terrorism” is the conviction these truth-seekers must live with, now restricting their free movement across international borders. Guardian reporter Sarah Harrison lives in fear of this particular schedule, as it constricts her movements, her voice, and her ability to travel home. She states: “Schedule 7 is not really about catching terrorists, even in its own terms. The Miranda judgment states that it has, in this case, “constituted an indirect interference with press freedom” and is admittedly “capable, depending on the facts, of being deployed so as to interfere with journalistic freedom.” Officers can detain someone not because they suspect them of being involved in terrorist activities, but to see “if someone appears” to – even indirectly – be facilitating the bizarre definition of terrorism used in the act.” No longer are we protected, no longer do we receive these acts such as the Terrorism Act of 2000 for “national security”, no longer are the people the priority. These acts are being created and even twisted, among legal officials, to protect the government and their preaching laced with hypocrisy. Illegal activity is OK, as long as you’re a government with enough manpower to dehumanize those who will speak against you. We expect our governments to work for the best interest of their countries, but what country puts the distribution of the truth and hard facts into the same definitions that they consider to be “terrorist activity”? The most harm caused in connection to both Snowden and Assange has been caused by the UK and US governments trying to cover up the blatant violations of human rights they have been so easily committing. In a day and age that we believe freedom of speech and information to be at it’s best, we live shrouded in falsified fear of those who actually uphold their integrity as journalists, rather than their devotion to a botched system.


By Catherine Watson, contributing writer, as part of our Year 2 Creative & Professional Writing degree Work Experience module.