UK police threatened David Miranda with jail

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
Font Size:

The U.K. police threatened the 28-year-old partner of journalist and blogger Glenn Greenwald with jail if he did not cooperate with them, The Guardian reports.

Miranda, a Brazilian citizen and Greenwald’s partner, was detained for nine hours on Sunday at London’s Heathrow Airport under the U.K.’s Terrorism Act of 2000, a controversial U.K. law that denies the detainee the right to remain silent or to legal representation.

The 28 year old was on his way back to Rio de Janeiro from Berlin where he had been visiting with American filmmaker Laura Poitras, “ferrying materials” on encrypted thumb drives between Poitras and Greenwald, according to the Guardian and The New York Times.

Greenwald and Poitras have published a number of revealing articles about the U.S. National Security Agency and the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters based on highly classified information provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Miranda “often assists” Greenwald with his work, a Guardian spokesperson told the BBC, and his flights were paid for by the Guardian.

Miranda denied having a role in Poitras’ and Greenwald’s investigation and told The Guardian that he believed he was targeted because he is Greenwald’s partner.

“I don’t look at documents,” he said. “I don’t even know if it was documents that I was carrying. It could have been for the movie that Laura is working on.”

After his flight landed at Heathrow, Miranda was taken into a room where authorities convinced him to turn over the passwords of his computer and mobile phone.

Miranda, who lives in Rio de Janeiro with Greenwald, told reporters that he was interrogated by six agents who asked questions about his life and confiscated his electronics, including his “computer, video game, mobile phone,” and memory cards.

White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnst told reporters during a press briefing on Monday that the White House did not give the order to detain Miranda, but was made aware of how the situation developed.

U.K. politicians are vowing to discover why a 13-year-old terrorism law was used to detain the partner of an American journalist for nine hours.

Brazil’s foreign minister Antonio Patriota said he would ask U.K. foreign secretary William Hague to ensure that such an incident would not happen again.

Keith Vaz — chairman of the U.K. Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee — told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that he would contact the police for an explanation about why the law was invoked to detain Miranda.

“What is extraordinary is they knew he was the partner (of Mr Greenwald) and therefore it is clear people who are directly involved are being sought but also the partners of those involved,” Vaz said, according to the Manchester Evening News.

He continued on, stating, “But if we are going to use the act in this way … then at least we need to know so everyone is prepared.”

Human rights group Amnesty International also fired off a response to the incident late Sunday, calling Miranda’s detainment “unlawful and unwarranted.”

Correction: A previous version identified Miranda as Greenwald’s spouse. He is his partner.

Follow Josh on Twitter and Facebook