News / Europe

Britain Under Fire Over Detention of Reporter's Partner

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, right, and his partner David Miranda. (File photo)
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, right, and his partner David Miranda. (File photo)
Reuters
British authorities came under pressure on Monday to explain why anti-terrorism powers were used to detain for nine hours the partner of a journalist who has written articles about U.S. and British espionage programs based on leaks from Edward Snowden.
 
Brazilian David Miranda, the partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained on Sunday at London's Heathrow Airport where he was in transit on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro. He was released without charge.
 
Miranda was detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows police to stop and question people traveling through ports and airports to determine whether they are involved in planning terrorist acts.
 
The opposition Labor Party urged the authorities to explain how they could justify using Schedule 7 to detain Miranda, arguing any suggestion that anti-terrorism powers had been misused could undermine public support for those powers.
 
“This has caused considerable consternation and swift answers are needed,” said Labor lawmaker Yvette Cooper, the party's spokeswoman on interior affairs, in a statement.
 
The Home Office, or interior ministry, said the detention was an operational police matter. The police declined to provide any details beyond confirming the detention.
 
“Schedule 7 forms an essential part of the UK's security arrangements. It is for the police to decide when it is necessary and proportionate to use these powers,” a Home Office spokesman said.
 
Miranda was detained for the maximum nine hours allowed by the legislation, which is extremely rare.
 
According to Home Office statistics, fewer than three out of every 10,000 people passing through British borders are stopped under Schedule 7. Of those, more than 97 percent are examined for less than one hour, while 0.06 percent are held for six hours or more.
 
Brazil has said Miranda's treatment “has no justification”.
 
Charges of intimidation
 
Greenwald, who is based in Brazil and writes for Britain's Guardian newspaper, said the detention of his partner was a “despotic” attempt to intimidate him and others involved in reporting on British and U.S. espionage programs.
 
“They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism,” he wrote in a column in the Guardian.
 
“If the UK and U.S. governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively ... they are beyond deluded.”
 
He has published a series of articles based on documents leaked by Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who faces criminal charges in the United States but has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.
 
Greenwald said it was “obvious” the British police had no terrorism suspicions about Miranda and that they had spent the nine hours of his detention asking him about Greenwald's reporting and the contents of the electronic devices he was carrying.
 
Lawyer David Anderson, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation who can make recommendations to ministers and parliament, told the BBC he had asked the police and the Home Office for a detailed explanation of Miranda's detention.
 
“My concern is to see that these powers are appropriate, that the right safeguards are in place, and that they are being properly used by the police,” he said.
 
Keith Vaz, a Labor lawmaker who chairs parliament's powerful Home Affairs committee, also told the BBC he had written to the head of London's Metropolitan Police to ask for clarification of what he labeled an “extraordinary” case.
 
Schedule 7 has been under official review, with a public consultation published in July showing that 71 percent of respondents thought the detention time-limit of nine hours was excessive. The government plans to reduce it to six hours.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid