Behind the Byline: Secret Surveillance, Orlando and Trident

The team at CommonSpace give an update of their work and highlights of the week

Michael Gray, reporter @GrayInGlasgow

Last weekend I put together a piece on the first Edward Snowden leak to implicate Scottish authorities.

The Intercept, a US news site, is one of the few media groups to have access to the Snowden files through journalist Glen Greenwald - who was instrumental in the original story from 2013. 

Last week further Snowden files focused on the dangers of mass surveillance from internal UK Government reports. Also disclosed, and mentioned by The Intercept, was an institution called the ‘Scottish Recording Centre’. 

After questions, Police Scotland confirmed that the SRC had been an intercept agency for Scottish police - but would not comment any further on the nature of intelligence matters. 

Various campaign organisations raised concerns and researchers called for an independent approach to digital security and surveillance in Scotland. 

Following the reports, MSPs raised the matter in parliament with Justice Minister Michael Matheson claiming Scottish operations were all legal, and any questions on illegal surveillance would be a matter for the UK Government.

 Mr Snowden, exiled in Moscow, gave it a read, which presumably means I’m now on some sort of watch-list!

Jen Stout, reporter @jm_stout

This week I was standing in for editor Angela Haggerty, who was taking a well-earned break. So I spent the majority of my time editing opinion pieces, sourcing images and checking spelling. All the stuff that goes on behind the scenes and that ends up being pretty time consuming!

But there was also a lot happening, with people responding to the unbelievable news from Orlando at the weekend. I reported on the plans for vigils around Scotland, and attended the Glasgow gathering on Monday

The number of dead and the clearly homophobic nature of the attack is so extraordinary, it puts other things into perspective. I was thinking also of my LGBT friends in Russia, who are facing threats we can’t really imagine over here. Just as I write this, news of the the killing of Jo Cox MP is just comming in.

David Jamieson, reporter@David_Jamieson7

In the midst the EU referendum and connected developments, a couple of important grassroots developments have gone largely ignored by much of the media.

In Berkshire, hundreds of activists are engaging in a month long campaign of direct action against Burghfeild nuclear weapon’s factory. The plant would be used to build the next generation of Trident should the UK parliament vote to renew the nuclear weapons system.

In addition to reporting on the events, I also interviewed two of the protest organisers about their motivations for the action, the importance of it’s timing to coincide with a potential vote, and their perspective as non-Scottish activists on the weapons as a Scottish issue.

At the same time, Scots were preparing to head-off from Glasgow to join an aid convoy in London of around 250 vehicles to Calais. Just as I had finished a piece on the Glaswegian contribution I was notified that the French border police had banned convoy, something quite unprecedented at the Dover Calais crossing. I was lucky to be in a position to get in touch with national organisers quickly and establish that they would drive to Dover and force a confrontation at the French border, something even more unprecedented.

Pictures: CommonSpace

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