The Brazilian partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald was detained in Heathrow Airport this morning for nine hours, as he was transferring planes on his way back to Brazil from visiting filmmaker (and Greenwald confidante) Laura Poitras in Berlin.
David Miranda was detained under "Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000," and questioned solely about his involvement with Edward Snowden and the publication of the NSA leaks, as well as the contents of his electronic products. The officials took all of his electronic possessions, including his cell phone, and have yet to return them. Over the nine hour interrogation, lawyers were not allowed to speak with Miranda.
They [the authorities] obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot. Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying. They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop "the terrorists", and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.
The detainment of Miranda represents a blatant escalation in surveillance and interrogation of journalists (or their families) who are working with Edward Snowden. Miranda's electronics might be carrying private information sent from Poitras to Greenwald. Without charging Miranda with anything, British authorities have confiscated his property (which will most likely be returned, after a thorough investigation of its contents).
Lawyers for The Guardian newspaper, as well as Brazilian officials, including the UK ambassador, tried to speak with Miranda while he was in custody, but they were denied permission. Greenwald, however, is unbowed by the attack on his family.
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.
Miranda was released after nine hours of questioning, the legal limit UK authorities could keep him in custody without charging him.
[Photograph by Glenn Greenwald]