NWU Statement Opposing Government Intimidation

NWU STATEMENT OPPOSING GOVERNMENT INTIMIDATION

The recent 9-hour detention of David Miranda at Heathrow Airport on August 18, marks another step in journalists, and journalism, becoming targets in the US sponsored, global War on Terror. Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who has written about, and released some of the thousands of documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.  He had gone to Berlin to meet with US film-maker Laura Poitras, who has worked with Snowden and Greenwald, and was returning home to Rio de Janeiro.

After the 9-hour interrogation, without a lawyer, Miranda was released, but his cell phone, laptop, camera and other electronic equipment were taken. This arrogant abuse of power is a serious escalation in government intimidation, and threatens journalists everywhere.

Schedule 7 of the U.K.'s Terrorism Act gives police the power to stop and search individuals without a warrant or even probable cause. Those stopped have no right to a lawyer, and it is a crime to not cooperate. 

David Miranda's detention is part of a growing web of intimidation. Recently the AP phone lines were secretly and illegally tapped in their NY, CT, and Washington DC bureaus, including the House of Representatives press gallery. More than 100 lines were tapped for two months, including the home and cell phones of individual reporters, essentially exposing all the confidential sources they had. A New York Times reporter faces jail in yet another Obama Administration attempt to stop leaks. And of course, there is the brutal treatment of Chelsea (Bradley) Manning followed by a 35-year sentence, for exposing war crimes, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians and journalists.

The National Writers Union stands firmly on the side of a free press and the public's right to know. We stand with all those who seek to report the truth and will not be intimidated. 

On August 11, our 2013 Delegate Assembly unanimously passed a resolution which reads:

[We] support the "Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012," and the extension of similar whistleblower protections to all government employees as well as employees in the private sector; and

[We] call for the United States to cease and desist from efforts to detain, arrest or prosecute any and all whistleblowers, institutional, corporate or government, for attempting to provide the public with information necessary to the operation of an informed democracy; and

That the United States take whatever steps necessary to affirmatively protect, defend and further the First Amendment freedoms of the press and of expression, and those freedoms which have, by treaty, become the law of the land, and are recognized as essential to a free and informed society.

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