Feeds

UK jails schizophrenic for refusal to decrypt files

Terror squad arrest over model rocket

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Exclusive The first person jailed under draconian UK police powers that Ministers said were vital to battle terrorism and serious crime has been identified by The Register as a schizophrenic science hobbyist with no previous criminal record.

His crime was a persistent refusal to give counter-terrorism police the keys to decrypt his computer files.

The 33-year-old man, originally from London, is currently held at a secure mental health unit after being sectioned while serving his sentence at Winchester Prison.

The Eurostar terminal at St Pancras

In June the man, JFL, who spoke on condition we do not publish his full name, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment under Part III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). The powers came into force at the beginning of October 2007.

JFL told The Register he had scrambled the data on several devices as part of security measures for his business, a small software company.

He was arrested on 15 September 2008 by officers from the Metropolitan Police's elite Counter-Terrorism Command (CTC), when entering the UK from France. Sniffer dogs at Gare du Nord in Paris detected his Estes model rocket, which was still in its packaging and did not have an engine.

On arrival at St Pancras, JFL was detained under the Terrorism Act and taken to Paddington Green police station, a highly secure facility where UK police hold their most dangerous suspects.

He was returning to the UK for an appointment with customs officials, to surrender after a missed bail appearance. This separate customs investigation - since dropped without charges - surrounded a failed attempt to enter Canada, and JFL missed bail following a move to the Netherlands. This contact with British authorities was apparently part of CTC's decision to arrest JFL.

While interviewing him, CTC, the unit that in 2006 replaced Special Branch as the UK's national counter-terror police, also seized more luggage. JFL had sent packages separately via Fedex to the Camden Lock Holiday Inn, where he had booked a room.

Throughout several hours of questioning, JFL maintained silence. With a deep-seated wariness of authorities, he did not trust his interviewers. He also claims a belief in the right to silence - a belief which would later allow him to be prosecuted under RIPA Part III.

A full forensic examination found nine nanograms of the high explosive RDX on his left hand, but JFL was given police bail. His passport was seized, however.

JFL says he does not know how the RDX, which has has military and civil applications, came to be on his hand. A result of five nanograms or less is routinely discounted by forensics and no charges were ever brought over his result of nine nanograms.

He returned to Paddington Green station as appointed on 2 December, and was re-arrested for carrying a pocket knife. During the interview CTC officers told JFL they wanted to examine the encrypted contents of the several hard drives and USB thumb drives they had seized from his Fedex packages.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.