Extraordinary Court Statement

Details are still emerg­ing but there was an extra­or­di­nary gov­ern­ment wit­ness state­ment this morn­ing in the UK regard­ing the deten­tion of David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald’s part­ner who was detained two weeks ago in Heathrow Air­port. Tele­graph cor­re­spon­dent Guardian David Bar­rett tweeted out the state­ment, which is pasted below in bul­let points:

  • Par­ties have agreed on order, says Miranda’s bar­ris­ter. It means the terms agreed last week by Miranda, Home Office and Scot­land Yard will con­tinue until a full hear­ing later this year #miranda
  • The par­ties are to be con­grat­u­lated for get­ting their heads together in this way at this stage,” says Mr Jus­tice Laws #miranda
  • Last week High Court said police can con­tinue exam­in­ing doc­u­ments seized from #miranda at Heathrow, some­thing his lawyers had tried to block
  • State­ment from senior Cab­i­net Office civil ser­vant to #miranda case says mate­r­ial was 58000 ‘highly clas­si­fied UK intel­li­gence documents’
  • Police who seized doc­u­ments from #miranda found among them a piece of paper with the decryp­tion pass­word, the state­ment says
  • This pass­word allowed them to decrypt one file on his seized hard drive, adds Oliver Rob­bins, Cab­i­net Office secu­rity adviser #miranda
  • The Govt believes Edward Snow­den, the NSA ‘whistle­blower’, “indis­crim­i­nately appro­pri­ated mate­r­ial in bulk” #miranda
  • The mate­r­ial con­tains per­sonal infor­ma­tion that would allow British intel­li­gence staff to be iden­ti­fied, inc some over­seas, it adds #miranda
  • The Govt has had to assume Snow­den data is now in the hands of for­eign gov­ern­ments, since his travel abroad (to HK and Rus­sia) #miranda
  • State­ment specif­i­cally says UK but they haven’t fin­ish decrypt­ing yet
  • It is “impos­si­ble” for Glenn Green­wald or any other jour­nal­ist to deter­mine which info could dam­age UK national secu­rity: Rob­bins statement
  • The claimant & his asso­ciates have demon­strated very poor judg­ment in their secu­rity arrange­ments with respect to the mate­r­ial…”#miranda
  • …ren­der­ing the appro­pri­a­tion of the mate­r­ial, or at least access to it by other, non-State actors, a real pos­si­bil­ity” #miranda
  • The fact that…the claimant was car­ry­ing on his per­son a hand­writ­ten piece of paper con­tain­ing the pass­word for one of the encrypted files recov­ered from him is a sign of very poor infor­ma­tion secu­rity prac­tice,” says Govt state­ment #miranda
  • State­ment implies GCHQ as well as Scot­land Yard are work­ing on the elec­tronic media seized from #miranda
  • The Govt state­ment sets out how they approached the Guardian because they were con­vinced it could not safe­guard the sen­si­tive data #miranda
  • The Guardian appeared to accept our assess­ment that their con­tin­ued pos­ses­sion of the infor­ma­tion was unten­able,” says Govt #miranda
  • There­fore destruc­tion of the mate­r­ial, under our super­vi­sion, was assessed to be the best prac­ti­ca­ble option,” it adds #miranda
  • National Tech­ni­cal Assis­tance Cen­tre, part of UK Govt lis­ten­ing post GCHQ, is help­ing Scot­land Yard decrypt mate­r­ial seized from #miranda
  • NTAC’s assis­tance includes “enhanced capa­bil­i­ties and tech­niques, to derive evi­dence from seized elec­tronic data”, says Govt #miranda
  • Govt says it needs to share data with “for­eign third par­ties” but refuses to say whom. (I think we can assume they’re talk­ing about the CIA)
  • Today’s court order widened the scope of excep­tions from last week. It means police can now look at mate­r­ial for a wider range of reasons.
  • Means police can specif­i­cally look at seized doc­u­ments to see if #miranda broke Offi­cial Secrets Acts.

More details as they emerge, but this is sim­ply extra­or­di­nary. And it con­tin­ues, once again, to dra­mat­i­cally alter our under­stand­ing of what hap­pened away from the Guardian’s and Greenwald’s ini­tial ver­sion of events.

UPDATE: Bar­rett filed his story ear­lier this morn­ing. It con­tains even more details:

  • Miranda is being inves­ti­gated for a pos­si­ble vio­la­tion of the Offi­cial Secrets Act.
  • The UK gov­ern­ment told the court that “dis­clo­sure of the mate­r­ial could put the lives of British intel­li­gence agents or their fam­i­lies at risk,” and “the gen­eral pub­lic could also be endan­gered if details about intel­li­gence oper­a­tions or meth­ods fell into the wrong hands.” This is pos­si­bly a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for hold­ing him under Sec­tion 7 of the Ter­ror­ism law, though that will be deter­mined at the full hear­ing sched­uled for October.
  • Miranda’s com­puter had 60 giga­bytes of data encrypted as a True­Crypt archive. Police have only exam­ined 20 giga­bytes of it so far.
  • Green­wald keeps insist­ing his dis­clo­sures haven’t harmed national secu­rity, a claim which will need to be bal­anced with the types of infor­ma­tion he had his hus­band car­ry­ing around the world.

Another Tele­graph jour­nal­ist, Tim Stan­ley, also pointed out some impor­tant incon­sis­ten­cies between Miranda’s ini­tial state­ments about his deten­tion and how he describes it now. For exam­ple, right after Miranda’s deten­tion, Green­wald said he did not have a decryp­tion key. Twit­ter @snarkamendment dis­cov­ered it:

Like many state­ments he has made over the past two months, fur­ther details throws doubt on its veracity.

Either way, if the government’s descrip­tion of the data is true — so far Greenwald’s vague asser­tion that it’s a “lie” is about all that con­tra­dicts it — then Green­wald and Poitras have poten­tially life-threatening infor­ma­tion in their pos­ses­sion. When com­pared with Greenwald’s threats to pun­ish the UK gov­ern­ment for his husband’s deten­tion, I would imag­ine the British gov­ern­ment is rather angry and worried.

More on this as it comes out.