MEDIA
08/19/2013 07:38 am ET Updated Oct 19, 2013

Detention Of Glenn Greenwald's Partner Leads To Political Fight

The detention of Glenn Greenwald's partner at Heathrow airport in London has turned into a full-blown international political issue.

David Miranda was held for nine hours under the UK's controversial Terrorism Act. He was returning from Berlin, where the Guardian had paid for him to travel to both give and receive documents from Laura Poitras, who has been working with the paper and Greenwald on their continuing series of stories based on the leaks from Edward Snowden. Miranda was not allowed a lawyer during the time he was being held. Police confiscated his laptop and other electronic equipment, including the thumb drive with the documents from Poitras.

The Daily Mail posted pictures on Monday showing Miranda returning to Brazil, where Greeenwald met him at the airport.

The Brazilian government issued a statement saying, in part, "This measure is without justification 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 detention led to outrage from many journalists. Andrew Sullivan, who is friends with Greenwald but said he has been skeptical about the NSA scandal, wrote, "Britain is now a police state when it comes to journalists, just like Russia is."

Amnesty International condemned the incident in a statement. Calling Miranda a "Guardian newspaper employee"—a title many would have been surprised to see attached to him—the organization's Widney said his detention was “unlawful and inexcusable."

Keith Vaz, a senior figure in the Labour party who chairs the parliamentary committee that monitors the department with responsibility for the Terrorism Act, told the BBC that the detention was "extraordinary."

"I didn't know they could detain somebody, remove their mobile and laptops, and look at their DVDs on terrorism legislation, which does not appear to be related to what Mr. Greenwald was doing," he said. "It is a new use of terrorism legislation to detain someone in these circumstances." He said he would be asking police to clarify the matter.

The Home Office, which oversees the police, told the BBC that it was for them to "decide" when to invoke the Terrorism Act.

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