Citing counter-terrorism authorities, UK detains Glenn Greenwald’s partner at Heathrow airport

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The Guardian reports that David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald’s partner, was detained today at Heathrow airport under  schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.  UK authorities questioned him for 9 hours about reporting by Greenwald and Laura Poitras on Edward Snowden’s disclosures of NSA abuses (Greenwald).  Officials confiscated Miranda’s electronics, “including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.”

A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said: “At 08:05 on Sunday, 18 August a 28-year-old man was detained at Heathrow airport under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He was not arrested. He was subsequently released at 17:00.” (Guardian)

Miranda was on his way to Brazil, where he lives, after spending a week in Berlin visiting Laura Poitras. On August 13, the New York Times ran a story, How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets,” by Peter Maas. The article described how US authorities have harassed Poitras whenever she cross US borders.

After being detained repeatedly, Poitras began taking steps to protect her data, asking a traveling companion to carry her laptop, leaving her notebooks overseas with friends or in safe deposit boxes.

It’s possible that authorities in Britain (or the US) speculated that Miranda might be transmitting information obtained from Snowden between  Poitras and Snowden. But, that would not justify holding Miranda for interrogation under a British law designed for questioning terrorism suspects.  It appears that authorities wanted to send a chilling message to journalists reporting on classified disclosures.

Photo by Terminal 5 Insider at Flickr (Creative Commons license)