The partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, who wrote about classified U.S. surveillance information leaked by intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, was detained in London on Sunday by British authorities under a controversial anti-terrorism law.
The Guardian newspaper, for which Greenwald is a reporter and columnist, disclosed that British law enforcement officials invoked the British Terrorism Act of 2000 to detain David Miranda, 28, at London’s Heathrow Airport for nine hours.
Miranda and Greenwald live together in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Greenwald, an American citizen, has said he and Miranda, a Brazilian national, set up a household in Rio prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented Miranda from obtaining U.S. residency as Greenwald’s spouse.
The British-based Guardian reported on Sunday afternoon that airport authorities refused to disclose why they detained Miranda when he arrived on a flight from Berlin, where he was helping an American filmmaker who has been collaborating with Greenwald on a project related to the documents leaked by Snowden.
The Guardian reported that the authorities released Miranda after holding him for nine hours, the maximum time allowed for detaining someone under the anti-terrorism law without placing the person being detained under arrest.
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard, the London police agency, told the Guardian that a “28-year-old man was detained at Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000” and was later released but provided no further details. According to the Guardian, the authorities confiscated Miranda’s laptop computer, cell phone, camera, memory sticks, DVDs, and games consoles.
“This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process,” Greenwald said in a posting Sunday on the Guardian website. “To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ,” he said.
“But the last thing it will do is intimidate or deter us in any way from doing our job as journalists,” Greenwald said in is posting. “Quite the contrary: it will only embolden us to continue to report aggressively.”
The GCHQ is a British intelligence agency.
In June, U.S. federal prosecutors charged Snowden with violating the U.S. Espionage Act and theft of government property for the leaking of classified information in his role as an NSA contractor while employed by the contracting company Booz Allen Hamilton.
Snowden left the U.S. prior to the Guardian’s publication of the information he leaked. He surfaced first in Hong Kong, where he agreed to news media interviews, before fleeing to Russia, where he has been given temporary political asylum.
U.S. prosecutors working on the Snowden case couldn’t immediately be reached to determine whether British authorities consulted them about their detaining and questioning of Miranda.