Free speech organisation Index on Censorship condemns the cumulative attacks on media freedom in the UK, following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass surveillance by the NSA and GCHQ. These include the recent detention of David Miranda at Heathrow and the destruction of materials held by the Guardian on the Snowden case.
Index opposes the mass surveillance of individuals’ private communications, which chills our free speech and invades our privacy. How free speech and security can reinforce each other, and the extent to which limited restrictions on free speech for security reasons may be allowable in a democracy, are matters of public interest and need open debate. But mass surveillance in a democracy can and should never be justified. Index calls on the government to stop mass surveillance and to respect and support media freedom in the UK.
The detention this week of David Miranda under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act looks like a direct attempt to intimidate those journalists and others who are investigating and exposing issues of such critical public and democratic concern. The chilling sight of destroyed discs in the Guardian’s offices, their destruction overseen by GCHQ staff, is an affront to our democracy and to media freedom in the UK.
Index on Censorship CEO, Kirsty Hughes said:
‘Legal threats and terrorism laws should not be used to attack investigative journalism. Our safety cannot be secured at the expense of basic human rights that protect the freedom of the press and our right to privacy.’