A campaigner prosecuted after refusing handy over his cell phone and pc passwords when police stopped him at Heathrow Airport has vowed to attraction to the Supreme Court docket, after the Court docket of Attraction dominated in opposition to him.
The trial is a serious take a look at case for Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, controversial laws that provides police powers to cease folks, query them and examine digital gear at ports and airports, even when there isn’t any suspicion of any crime.
Muhammad Rabbani was convicted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London after a one-day trial in September 2017, in a case that may have implications for 1000’s of individuals stopped at UK airports and ports.
Rabbani argued in the Court docket of Attraction that he was entitled to not disclose his passwords to police, following a courtroom choice in a separate case that acknowledged the confidentiality of journalistic materials beneath Schedule 7 searches.
Lord Justice Stephen Irwin dismissed all grounds of the attraction at the moment. He dominated that it was not self-evident that authorized protections launched to guard journalistic materials beneath Schedule 7 utilized to different classes of excluded materials.
Ruling units ‘harmful precedent’
Rabbani, talking after the judgment, mentioned the appeals courtroom had set a harmful precedent.
“It now implies that privileged materials carried by legal professionals, human rights activists and others isn’t protected, and making an attempt to guard such info can now end in a terrorism conviction. We can be interesting this on the Supreme Court docket,” he mentioned.
Cage describes itself as “an unbiased advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the Conflict on Terror”. In line with its web site, its “work has targeted on supporting survivors of abuse and mistreatment throughout the globe”.
Muhammad Rabbani, Cage
Rabbani, from Bethnal Inexperienced in London, was questioned by officers from the Metropolitan Instructions Port Unit at Heathrow Terminal four after getting back from a marriage in Doha, Qatar, in November 2017.
He was arrested for wilful obstruction beneath Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 after refusing handy over the passwords to his iPhone and MacBook Air.
He advised the courtroom that his cell phone and laptop computer pc contained notes and 1000’s of pages of paperwork regarding a consumer he had met in Qatar.
Final month, Cage launched 35,000 paperwork detailing the case of Qatari businessman, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, supporting claims that he was tortured and abused by US officers throughout 13 years of incarceration in a detention centre in South Carolina. The group is now campaigning for the arrest of one of many alleged perpetrators.
“I knew on the time, once I refused my passwords, that I might be despatched to jail. I stay satisfied that preserving the precept of defending torture survivors is the fitting factor, even when it carries penalties based on the regulation. What ought to concern judges and legal professionals is that such an influence as Schedule 7 exists within the first place – one that doesn’t respect due course of norms and may land an harmless individual in jail for merely defending privileged or confidential knowledge,” Rabbani mentioned after the decision.
Schedule 7 ‘basically flawed’
Attorneys for Rabbani argued within the Court docket of Attraction on three Could 2018 that Schedule 7 was “basically flawed”, and that the code of practice utilized by police and enforcement officers lacked correct procedures to guard folks from disclosing legally privileged and different excluded info.
Henry Blaxland, representing Rabbani, argued in authorized submissions that the absence of the suitable safeguards, coupled with the failure of the police to comply with the code of observe, meant the request for disclosure of passwords for the units was illegal.
The police knew “completely effectively that Muhammad Rabbani was not an individual who was engaged within the fee, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism”, he mentioned in authorized submissions.
Blaxland mentioned there was no dispute that Rabbani’s digital units contained materials held in confidence, beneath the related provisions of Schedule 7.
He argued that police stopped Rabbani for “a collateral objective”, reminiscent of to achieve entry to paperwork in his possession, which amounted to harassment primarily based on the character of his work.
“The courtroom ought to have been in a position to evaluate the fabric, if needed in non-public with the defendants being protected by particular counsel, on the grounds that the pursuits of justice require it,” mentioned Blaxland.
No point out of confidential info earlier than arrest
Lord Justice Irwin dismissed claims by Rabbani’s legal professionals authorized safety to journalistic materials, acknowledged by the appeals courtroom within the case introduced by David Miranda, husband of investigative journalist Glenn Grenwald, utilized in Rabbani’s case.
The Miranda choice was “expressly and narrowly” centred on Article 10 of the European Conference on Human Rights and freedom of expression for journalism, Irwin mentioned within the judgment.
“It’s under no circumstances self-evident that equivalent (and even comparable) concerns come up in respect of different classes of excluded or particular process info,” he wrote.
The decide discovered that Rabbani initially advised officers he wouldn’t reply questions as a result of he had a proper to privateness beneath Article eight of the Human Rights Act.
He didn’t point out an obligation of confidentiality till after his arrest and questioning beneath warning, the decide discovered.
Rabbani was not merely silent about excluded or particular process materials – he had made the optimistic assertion that he was refusing handy over his password and PINs to guard his personal privateness, he mentioned.
The decide additionally rejected arguments that the police search was illegal on the grounds that the police refused to provide a purpose for stopping Rabbani at Heathrow.
“It couldn’t be the intention of Parliament that intelligence ought to must be communicated, even in abstract kind, earlier than the powers of cease and search ought to be exercised. That was clearly not sensible and would frustrate powers,” he mentioned.
The decide agreed with the lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, Tom Little, that it could be impractical to nominate a particular counsel to evaluate probably confidential materials earlier than it’s accessed by the police, saying that was a matter for Parliament to resolve in laws.
Rabbani ‘ought to have introduced a judicial evaluate’
If Rabbani needed to problem using Schedule 7 powers, he ought to have introduced a judicial evaluate, slightly than try and deliver the case via the courtroom of attraction, the decide dominated.
Rabbani had issued judicial evaluate proceedings, however had withdrawn them. He might even have appealed to the Crown Court docket, which might have allowed him to provide fuller proof of the occasions.
In 2015/2016, some 28,000 folks had been topic to examinations beneath Schedule 7, based on a report by the then independent reviewer of terrorism, David Anderson QC, which led to 10,000 intelligence experiences. Police downloaded info from four,300 units belonging to 1,677 folks.
The character of the intelligence priorities meant that these who outline themselves as Asian had been a number of occasions extra prone to be questioned and detained beneath Schedule 7 than their presence within the inhabitants would warrant, Anderson’s report mentioned.
The best worth of Schedule 7 is in supplying intelligence about terrorist threats, disruption and deterrence, and recruiting informants, mentioned Anderson.
The variety of examinations beneath Schedule 7 are falling, having dropped from 19,355 on the finish of December 2016 to 16,349 on the finish of December 2017, a drop of 16%, based on a later government report.
Rabbani mentioned he had been stopped between 20 and 30 occasions at airports by police and members of the Safety Service.
“Schedule 7 powers are draconian and intrusive, violating the private privateness of each physician, lawyer, human rights defender, banker, enterprise proprietor, or psychiatrist stopped at UK borders with out suspicion. There’s nothing prefer it anyplace else within the western world. Information collected from telephones and laptops is routinely shared with GCHQ and past,” he mentioned after the listening to.
Rabbani was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £600 prices and a £20 sufferer surcharge at a hearing before senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot.
The federal government added safeguards to the code of observe governing how police ought to conduct searches, within the wake of the landmark authorized ruling in 2016 over the arrest of David Miranda throughout a stopover in London in August 2013.
The safeguards had been launched via a code of observe, which invokes sections 10, 11 and 14 of the Police and Prison Proof Act (Tempo) to guard privileged info, journalistic materials or materials held in confidence acquired in the middle of any commerce, enterprise, occupation or different occupation.