The partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald was held at Heathrow airport under the UK Terrorism Act for the maximum time allowed before pressing charges. Amnesty International dubbed the move an unwarranted revenge after Greenwald revealed NSA spy programs.
David Miranda was passing through London en route from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro, where he lives with Greenwald – the Guardian journalist who in a series of articles helped Edward Snowden to reveal the scale of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs.
Miranda was detained for questioning by security officers at Heathrow around 8am local time, under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Officials held him for almost nine hours without pressing any charges, which is the maximum amount of time that a person is allowed to be held under the controversial law.
Officers released him after confiscating all of his electronic equipment. According to the Guardian, officers confiscated Miranda’s mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs, and even his gaming console.
“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,” Greenwald wrote in response to the incident. “The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere.”
UK authorities did not offer any further explanation, other than stating that the 28-year-old man was “detained at Heathrow airport” and “subsequently released.”
The Brazilian government released a statement expressing grave concern over the episode. It stated that the measure was unjustified “since it involves an individual against whom there are no charges that can legitimate the use of that legislation.”
“The Brazilian government expects that incidents such as the one that happened to the Brazilian citizen today do not repeat,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has stated that Miranda was a clear “victim of unwarranted revenge tactics.”
“It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his husband has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance,” said Widney Brown, Amnesty’s senior director of international law and policy.
Following the “message of intimidation” which Greenwald says was aimed not only at him and his partner but also at all journalists, he has promised that “US and UK authorities will soon see” his defiance.
The Brazil-based American reporter, who broke the news about the espionage activities of the US and allied governments, recently revealed that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had given him at least 15,000 classified documents, adding that the stories he published so far are just a “small portion” of what is to be revealed.
According to Greenwald, British authorities did not suspect David Miranda of any terror links and instead interrogated him about the NSA reports.
During the trip to Berlin, which was paid for by the Guardian, Miranda met with Laura Poitras – the US filmmaker who recorded the famous interview in which Snowden came forward as a source of high-profile leaks.
The whistleblower, charged in the US with espionage, was granted temporary asylum in Russia on August 1. After spending more than one month in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, he slipped quietly out of the terminal to an undisclosed safe location.
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