December 22, 2013
WHISTLEBLOWERSMonday, August 19, 2013
Snowden journalist slams partner’s detention
The British government was accused of intimidation yesterday, after detaining for nine hours the partner of a Guardian journalist who received leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
David Miranda, the partner of reporter Glenn Greenwald, was questioned by UK authorities and detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, which allows UK security agencies to stop and question people at borders. The controversial law allows UK police officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals without a warrant.
Miranda, who lives in Brazil with Greenwald, was attempting to return to Rio de Janiero from Berlin. He is believed to have been visiting Laura Poitras, the US filmmaker who worked on the Snowden files with Greenwald.
While changing flights at London Heathrow Airport, Miranda was detained, subjected to questioning and held for nine hours without charge — the maximum the law allows before detainees must be released or formally arrested.
Electronic items, such as Miranda’s mobile phone, camera, laptops, DVDs and memory sticks were confiscated by the authorites.
Over the last two months, since making contact with Snowden, Greeenwald has published a series of investigative pieces revealing details of NSA surveillance programmes. Much of the work has been based on files provided to him by Snowden. The Guardian has also published stories of late investigating electronic surveillance by Britain’s GCHQ — the UK’s own intelligence agency known as Government Communications Headquarters.
In an article for the British newspaper, Greenwald explained that he had received a phone call early in the morning informing him of his partner’s detention. He was informed that Miranda could be held for up to nine hours, that the detainee would not be allowed to speak to a lawyer and was told that he would not be allowed to talk to his partner.
The Guardian sent lawyers to the airport to try and talk with Miranda and Greenwald spoke to Brazilian diplomats and the Brazilian ambassador to the UK. No one was able to find out any additional information about Miranda’s detention.
After nine hours, the 28-year-old Brazilian citizen was released. According to figures quoted by The Guardian yesterday, “most examinations under Schedule 7 — over 97 percent — last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.”
Greenwald was defiant, saying the incident was “obviously designed to send a message of intimidation to those of us working journalistically on reporting on the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ.
“If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further,” he wrote.
“This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process... the actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere,” Greenwald said.
British police confirmed yesterday they had detained a 28-year-old man at 8.05am local time.
Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service, refused to be drawn on why Miranda was stopped. The government also refused to comment.
Opposition Labour MP Tom Watson said that he was shocked at the news. He told The Guardian: “It’s almost impossible, even without full knowledge of the case, to conclude that Glenn Greenwald’s partner was a terrorist suspect.
“I think that we need to know if any ministers knew about this decision, and exactly who authorized it.”
The Brazilian government also expressed its concern over Miranda’s detention, with the Foreign Ministry issuing a statement criticizing what it called “an unjustifiable measure.”
“The Brazilian government hopes that incidents such as those recorded today (Sunday) against Brazilian citizens are not repeated,” said the note.
Herald with The Guardian