THE PARTNER of a Guardian journalist has been detained for nine hours at Heathrow airport, apparently in revenge for the journalist's exposés of GCHQ surveillance.
David Michael Miranda is the domestic partner of Glenn Greenwald, and he was detained by UK security services for nine hours at Heathrow over the weekend. Greenwald is the Guardian reporter with US National Security Agency (NSA) whistle-blower Edward Snowden in his contacts book, and his articles flipped the lid on the NSA's internet surveillance dragnet.
Greenwald wrote about his husband's experience in a post to the Guardian. He said that it was a "failed attempt at intimidation", adding that if that was the intention, then it has had the opposite effect.
"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," he wrote.
"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."
Miranda was detained under Schedule 7 of the UK terrorism Act of 2000, which human rights group Amnesty International said has a "broad" scope.
"It is utterly improbable that David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian national transiting through London, was detained at random, given the role his husband has played in revealing the truth about the unlawful nature of NSA surveillance," said Widney Brown, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty International.
"David's detention was unlawful and inexcusable. He was detained under a law that violates any principle of fairness and his detention shows how the law can be abused for petty vindictive reasons."
This was echoed at the UK Pirate Party, where party leader Loz Kaye said that it was an example of how the Terrorism Act could be used in an abusive manner.
"The stopping of Glenn Greenwald's partner, and the seizing of his phone, laptop and other devices is utterly unacceptable. This is an attack on journalism, protection of sources and freedom of movement. Theresa May must explain how this is possible in the UK, and why someone like David Miranda would be targeted under the 2000 Terrorism Act. This leaves the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' doctrine in tatters," he said.
"Civil liberties activists have long pointed out that Schedule 7 of Labour's Terrorism Act 2000 had the potential for abuse. We have been proved right in a chilling way. The Home Secretary must now act decisively to end this abuse."
Greenwald said that such tactics would not stop him and his peers from reporting on the things that they uncover.
"When they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today - all they do is helpfully underscore why it's so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark," he added.
Miranda was on his way from Germany to Brazil, his home country. In a statement the Brazilian Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the incident.
"The Brazilian government expresses grave concern about the episode that happened today in London, where a Brazilian citizen was held without communication at Heathrow airport for 9 hours, in an action based in the British anti-terrorism legislation," it said.
"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." µ
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