Glenn Greenwald's partner was detained by authorities at London's Heathrow airport for nearly nine hours, the Guardian reported on Sunday.
David Miranda, who lives with Greenwald in Brazil, was held under a controversial provision of Britain's Terrorism Act that allows police to stop, question and search people without having to prove any reasonable suspicion, and without a lawyer needing to be present. The paper said he was held for the maximum amount of time allowed under the law:
According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.
Miranda was then released without charge, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.
Miranda was coming from Berlin, where, the Guardian said, he had stayed with Laura Poitras, the filmmaker and journalist who, along with Greenwald, has been at the center of the storm surrounding NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Greenwald told the New York Times that the Guardian had paid for Miranda to travel to Berlin so he could give documents to Poitras, and that he was coming home with documents from Poitras.
Ironically, Poitras, whose work usually involves sensitive national security issues, re-located to Berlin from America because she had grown tired of being constantly detained and questioned at airports.
In a separate post, Greenwald said that Miranda had been questioned in detail about the work that he and Poitras were doing.
Britain is, of course, an extremely close ally of the United States, and the Guardian has published several major stories about the reach of its own intelligence service, GCHQ.
As one of the journalists most responsible for the revelations about the NSA's survaillance practices—and as someone in continuing contact with Snowden—Greenwald has become a target himself.
Republican congressman Peter King, for instance, called for his prosecution. Former NSA chief Michael Hayden said he was a "co-conspirator" with Snowden. NBC's David Gregory memorably asked him why he thought he shouldn't be charged with a crime.
In his blog post, Greenwald said that the detention would not deter him from continuing his reporting:
This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. 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 feel threatened by. But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.
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. Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world - when they prevent the Bolivian President's plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today - all they do is helpfully underscore why it's so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.
The Guardian also issued a statement:
We were dismayed that the partner of a Guardian journalist who has been writing about the security services was detained for nearly nine hours while passing through Heathrow airport. We are urgently seeking clarification from the British authorities.
Journalist Choire Sicha summed up the general attitude of many on Twitter:
— Choire Sicha (@Choire) August 18, 2013