The detention for nine hours Sunday of journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner by authorities at London’s Heathrow Airport was an attack “on the news-gathering process and journalism,” Greenwald writes on The Guardian‘s website.
Greenwald, one of the correspondents who in June brought “NSA leaker” Edward Snowden’s secrets about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance programs to light, adds that:
“It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by. But the U.K. puppets and their owners in the U.S. national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.”
Greenwald charges that British officials “abused their own terrorism law” — specifically, Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 — by questioning his partner, Brazilian citizen David Miranda. Authorities also seized Miranda’s “laptop, his cellphone, various video game consoles, DVDs, USB sticks, and other materials,” Greenwald says.
“They obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot,” he writes.
Greenwald tells the BBC that authorities “never asked [Miranda] … a single question at all about terrorism or anything relating to a terrorist organization. … They spent the entire day asking about the reporting I was doing and other Guardian journalists were doing on the NSA stories.”
According to The Associated Press, “the 28-year-old Miranda was returning home to Brazil from Germany, where he was staying with Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker who has worked with Greenwald on the NSA story. … London police acknowledged that they had detained a 28-year-old man at 8:05 a.m. He was released at 5 p.m. without being arrested, the Metropolitan Police Service said. … The Brazilian government expressed ‘grave concern’ over the detention of Miranda, Greenwald’s longtime partner with whom he’s in a civil union. The pair lives in Rio de Janeiro.”
The Guardian says that “Scotland Yard refused to be drawn [out] on why Miranda was stopped using powers that enable police officers to stop and question travelers at U.K. ports and airports.” The BBC reports that “a Home Office spokesman said on Monday: ‘Schedule 7 forms an essential part of the U.K.’s security arrangements — it is for the police to decide when it is necessary and proportionate to use these powers.’ ”
Miranda is now home in Brazil.
Update at 10 a.m. ET. Lawmakers, Independent Reviewer Call For Answers:
“Senior politicians and an independent reviewer have raised questions about David Miranda’s nine-hour detention at Heathrow Airport,” the BBC says. “Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said police must explain why terrorism powers were used. … The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, said it was very unusual for a passenger to be held for the full nine hours under this schedule and he wanted to ‘get to the bottom’ of what had happened. He said he had asked the Home Office and Scotland Yard for a full briefing.”