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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More