Having been subjected to police surveillance for over 50 years, both in UK and abroad, I can sympathise with the 9-hour ordeal of David Miranda’s questioning by security police over alleged terrorism links.
From my own experience, such experiences have nothing to do with security: they are harassment, pure and simple.
As a teenage campaigner for peace and socialism, I became accustomed to the trenchcoated Special Branch officials’ taking down every word I said from street platforms. But I first attracted more personal attention after I led a successful campaign to get a bus routed into a council estate with no easily accessible public transport. A unformed copper knocked me up at dawn on a Saturday morning to question me about my political affiliations.
I was supposed to be intimidated. Instead, I went public.
I got my MP to raise the matter with the Home Secretary, my trade union took it up, and I ensured that the untimely visit made banner headlines in the local press.
Nevertheless, every time I have moved house my neighbours have received similar visits, being warned that a dangerous agitator was now in their midst.
But I’m not at all dangerous. If only I were!
I sing my songs, read my poems, go on demo’s, worship God and try to do my best to build his Kingdom here on earth. If these things make me dangerous, then every human being who tries to do the right thing is dangerous – since we stand “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”, as St Paul put it (Ephesians 6:12).
By a strange twist of fate, I was contracted by West Yorkshire police to work as a drugs diversion worker in 13 Bradford schools, and the man who hired me received a call from a high-up in the service – he would not tell me who – warning him that I should not be hired. (To his credit, he refused to back down.)
I have been questioned by the FBI in USA and Mossad in Israel, and it was quite clear they had access to my Special Branch files.
My phone has been bugged for years, and I have reason to believe bugs have been placed in my home and in my car.
Obviously, if I were any serious security threat, the establishment has plenty of undercover techniques that could be employed, but – like David Miranda’s 9-hour interrogation – the object is not investigative, but intimidatory.
It is good that Miranda and the Guardian have spoken out about this semi-illegal attack on freedom of the press, and freedom of speech generally. But it is nothing new. As my own experiences have demonstrated, it has been going on for years.
- ‘More aggressive’: Greenwald vows to publish more secrets after UK detains partner (rt.com)
- Greenwald: Suit filed in UK (cnn.com)
- UK freedoms, farewell! Detention of Miranda reveals vindictiveness of wounded police state (rt.com)
- Stephen Lawrence case: Special Branch ‘spied on’ Macpherson inquiry (guardian.co.uk)
- The UK government’s investigations of the Guardian and David Miranda are troubling (cjr.org)
- Cameron ‘approved Miranda detention’ (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Hang on…WHAT? Heathrow?! David Miranda’s detention and the threat to investigative journalism, free speech and civil liberties. (morethanannie.wordpress.com)
- Detention of David Miranda shows power of the Terrorism Act is broad and poisonous (mirror.co.uk)
- Is Glenn Greenwald’s journalism now viewed as a ‘terrorist’ occupation? | Simon Jenkins (theguardian.com)
- PM ‘told Heywood to warn Guardian’ (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)