Lawyers of the partner of a journalist who published leaked U.S. security information have started legal action against the government in an effort to assure British officials do not share his seized material with anyone else.
Brazilian David Miranda, the partner of the Guardian newspaper's Glenn Greenwald, 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. Miranda's lawyers said Tuesday his detention was unlawful.
But London's Metropolitan Police Service said the use of and anti-terrorism law to detain and question Miranda was "legally and procedurally sound." Authorities said in a statement Tuesday Miranda's examination 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 Miranda was offered legal representation and was attended by a lawyer while being questioned. Greenwald, an American journalist working for the Britain-based Guardian, said officials confiscated all of Miranda's electronic media and refused him access to a lawyer.
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.
Meanwhile, the editor of the Guardian newspaper said British agents oversaw the destruction of some of the newspaper's hard drives in a bid to keep documents leaked by U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden safe from Chinese spies.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said a government official threatened to use legal action to force the newspaper to surrender the leaked documents if they failed to destroy them or hand them over to the government.
The editor vowed his paper would continue reporting on the leaked documents, just not from London.
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.
British lawmaker Keith Vaz said he is asking police for an explanation in to Miranda's detention. He said it was "extraordinary" that police were targeting partners of people involved in Snowden's disclosures.