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Tyburn Tree

The Tyburn Tree was the site of public executions in London, England. The Tree’s last customer was John Austin, who was hanged for highway robbery on 7 November 1783.

David Miranda, a citizen of Brazil and partner of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, was en-route home from Berlin when he had the misfortune of transiting through London’s Heathrow Airport, where he was kidnapped, interrogated and intimidated for nine hours.  Eventually he was allowed to continue his journey without his tools and his toys, as the UK’s 21st century equivalents of highway bandits retained possession of his “mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles”.  (UK Guardian:  Glenn Greenwald’s partner detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours, 18 August 2013)

We subsequently learn that intimidation was indeed the purpose of this nine hours of abuse and theft under colour of law:

One U.S. security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government’s detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden’s materials …  (Yahoo! News Canada:  Britain forced Guardian to destroy copy of Snowden material, 19 August 2013)

It’s a sad day when the tactics of one of the world’s formerly great democracies render it scarcely distinguishable from the oppressive practices of banana republics.

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