Thursday 7 February 2019
I think we can all agree that it is a basic tenet of our justice system that if a person is suspected of offences, and if they are deprived of property and access to their own records as a consequence of these suspicions and especially if they have been subjected to a harrowing extradition process that might have resulted in them spending the rest of their entire life imprisoned in a country they have never visited, for alleged involvement in non-violent protest activities, then it should be the responsibility of law enforcement agencies to follow the correct procedure and have them formally charged so that they are able to access the evidence against them and defend themselves in open court.
When absurdly protracted periods of time have elapsed between the date of an arrest without there being any charges pressed and without there being a restoration of property and information and where, due to the open-endedness of indictments in the requesting country there is now an effective ban on the person’s international travel which has not followed from due process, then it is especially important that there be some end date in sight, otherwise the process itself becomes the punishment and we are no longer operating under the rule-of-law but a regime of systematic bullying.
This state of affairs is not to be tolerated. We must demand better.
As the NCA has not elected to pursue charges and has seemingly not put any efforts into this end either before the commencement or since the conclusion of extradition proceedings it has become unfortunately necessary to use the instruments handed down by parliament for redress of arbitrary dispossession of individuals by executive bodies through the Police Property Act.
The responsibility now lies with the courts to attempt to do their best to fathom the issues here, not least of which is whether it is acceptable that claims made about encrypted contents can overturn the default presumption that individuals, groups and entities can own property, and on whom rests the burden of proof regarding such claims.
As the use of strong information security storage practices becomes ubiquitous globally it is of paramount importance to resist pernicious attempts to undermine these practices, not least of which is the arbitrary deprivation of property and data outwith due process.
--- Lauri Love, 5th February 2019.
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