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Britain: Questioning of Journalist's Partner 'Procedurally Sound'

  • VOA News

U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (L) walks with his partner David Miranda in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport, August 19, 2013.

U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (L) walks with his partner David Miranda in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport, August 19, 2013.

London's Metropolitan Police Service says the use of anti-terrorism law to detain and question the partner of a journalist who published leaked U.S. security information was "legally and procedurally sound."

Authorities said in a statement Tuesday that the examination of Brazilian David Miranda, partner of the Guardian newspaper's Glenn Greenwald, was "necessary and proportionate" after Greenwald wrote about U.S. and British surveillance programs based on leaks by U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden.

The MPS said examination of the 28-year-old Miranda was "necessary and proportionate" and said Miranda was offered legal representation and was attended by a lawyer while being questioned.

Miranda was held for questioning for nearly nine hours Sunday after being detained while passing through London's Heathrow Airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro from Berlin.

Greenwald, an American journalist working for the Britain-based Guardian, said Miranda was refused access to a lawyer. He said officials confiscated all of Miranda's electronic media - including a cell phone, DVDs and encrypted data storage devices - containing documents related to Greenwald's investigation into U.S. government surveillance.

British lawmaker Keith Vaz said he was asking police for an explanation. He said it was "extraordinary" that police knew Miranda was Greenwald's partner, and the authorities were targeting partners of people involved in Snowden's disclosures.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday British officials gave their U.S. counterparts a "heads up'' before detaining Miranda. But Earnest said American officials did not ask British authorities to question Miranda and were not involved.

Greenwald wrote that Miranda's detention was designed to intimidate "those of us working journalistically on reporting on the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ," referring to Britain's Government Communications Headquarters.

Brazil's Foreign Ministry expressed "grave concern" about the incident, which it said "has no justification" because it involves "an individual against whom there are no charges that can warrant the use of this legislation."

Britain's Terrorism Act was passed in 2000 and applies only at airports, ports and border areas.

Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Greenwald's investigation into U.S. government surveillance to Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who has helped disseminate Snowden's leaks. He was returning to Brazil with different documents.

The Guardian, which paid for his flights, issued a statement saying it was "dismayed" at Miranda's detention and that it would press British authorities for an urgent clarification.

The rights group Amnesty International said Miranda was "clearly a victim of unwarranted revenge tactics" and that there is "no basis for believing that [he] presents any threat whatsoever to the UK government."

London's Metropolitan Police Service, which had jurisdiction over the case, said in a statement that Miranda had been lawfully detained under the Terrorism Act and later released. It did not provide further details.