Political journalists and bloggers are subject to the full range of anti-terrorism powers if they threaten to publish, prepare to publish or publish something that the authorities think may be dangerous to life, to public health or public safety. That is so even if they do not wish to spread fear or to intimidate – it is enough that their work is designed to influence the Government or an international organisation. Those who employ or support them, or who encourage others to do the same, could also qualify as terrorists.
The definition is broad enough to include a campaigner who voices a religious objection to vaccination. If his purpose is to influence the Government, and if his words are judged capable of creating a serious risk to public health, he could be treated as a terrorist: detained for long periods of time, prosecuted, have his assets frozen and so on. Voicing support for him could also be a terrorist crime.
David Anderson Q.C., the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, published his annual report today on the operation of the Terrorism Acts.
Among the topics covered in a comprehensive review of recent practice are:
- recent developments in proscription and deproscription (chapter 5)
- alleged ethnic or community bias in the use of police powers (6.15-6.19 and 7.7-7.15)
- reform of the Schedule 7 port power, with the Government’s latest response to my recommendations of November 2013 (chapter 7)
- developments concerning arrest and detention (chapter 8)
- difficulties posed by UK counter-terrorism law for aid agencies and peacemakers operating in conflict zones (9.25-9.33)
- the worldwide reach of UK counter-terrorism law, and its treatment of foreign fighters in Syria and elsewhere (9.15-9.17, 10.60-10.70)
- the definition of terrorism, as discussed on Radio 4′s Today programme this morning (chapters 4 and 10)
- the future of independent review, in the light of new demands placed on the Independent Reviewer, and recent Government proposals that his office be replaced by a Board (chapter 11).