The Slatest

NSA Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Partner Detained in London Airport for 9 Hours

Glenn Greenwald speaking at the University of Arizona in October, 2012

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

The partner of the Guardian journalist who has broken several of the stories based on information leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, was detained for almost nine hours by British authorities on his way home to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. David Miranda, who lives with Greenwald, was flying through London on his way home from a trip to Berlin when authorities stopped him under a controversial anti-terrorism law, reports the Guardian. The 28-year-old was held for the maximum amount of time tha law allows for questioning at airports, ports and border areas before a formal arrest has to take place. Miranda was detained at 8:05 a.m. Sunday and released at 5 p.m., according to a Scotland Yard statement.

Miranda was eventually released without charge but electronics, including his cell phone, laptop, memory sticks, and “various video game consoles” were confiscated. Greenwald’s Brazilian partner had been in Berlin visiting Laura Poitras, the filmmaker who has also been working with the Snowden leaks. 

In a separate piece, Greenwald writes about how Miranda was detained for three hours before he got a call from a security official. Although the Guardian immediately sent lawyers to the airport, no one was able to obtain information on Miranda’s status. Greenwald says he has no doubts about why Miranda was really detained:

They 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.

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.