News / Europe

British Police: Seized Snowden-Linked Data Could Put Lives at Risk

U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (C) looks on as his partner David Miranda (R) talks with the media after arriving at Rio de Janeiro's International Airport, Brazil, Aug. 19, 2013.
U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (C) looks on as his partner David Miranda (R) talks with the media after arriving at Rio de Janeiro's International Airport, Brazil, Aug. 19, 2013.
Reuters
British police said on Thursday that documents seized from the partner of a journalist, who has led coverage of Edward Snowden's leaks about U.S. and British electronic spying, were “highly sensitive” and, if disclosed, could put lives at risk.

Counter-terrorism detectives said they had begun a criminal investigation following a preliminary examination of the material taken from David Miranda, partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald, after he was held for nine hours at London's Heathrow Airport on Sunday.

The inquiry is the latest twist in a surveillance scandal that has pitted U.S. President Barack Obama against the Kremlin and prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron's advisers to demand the return of secrets from the Guardian newspaper.

Miranda, a Brazilian citizen who had been ferrying documents between Greenwald and a Berlin-based journalist contact of Snowden's, was held at Heathrow under anti-terrorism powers, before being released without charge minus his laptop, phone, a computer hard drive and memory sticks.

“Initial examination of material seized has identified highly sensitive material, the disclosure of which could put lives at risk,” London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Gwendolen Morgan, the lawyer for David Miranda, makes a statement to members of the media outside the High Court in London, Aug. 22, 2013.Gwendolen Morgan, the lawyer for David Miranda, makes a statement to members of the media outside the High Court in London, Aug. 22, 2013.
x
Gwendolen Morgan, the lawyer for David Miranda, makes a statement to members of the media outside the High Court in London, Aug. 22, 2013.
Gwendolen Morgan, the lawyer for David Miranda, makes a statement to members of the media outside the High Court in London, Aug. 22, 2013.
The police refused to give any further details about the criminal inquiry, and Miranda's lawyer, Gwendolen Morgan, told reporters she knew very little about the investigation or what the basis for it was.

Earlier, Miranda's lawyers went to London's High Court to try to prevent British authorities from looking at the tens of thousands of documents on the seized devices.

However, two judges gave the authorities until Aug. 30 to sift through the documents on the proviso it was for the defense of national security and to investigate any possible links to terrorism.

“We welcome the decision of the court which allows our examination of the material - containing thousands of classified intelligence documents - to continue in order to protect life and national security,” the police statement said.

Greenwald, who is based in Brazil and writes for Britain's Guardian, has published articles based on documents leaked by Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who faces criminal charges in the United States.

Media freedom

British security officials say the Snowden leaks, which showed the scale of U.S. and British eavesdropping on everything from phone calls and emails to internet and social media use, have undermined national security and could put lives at risk.

But the detention of Miranda and British government pressure on the Guardian have dragged Cameron into an international row over media freedom and the powers of the security services.

Germany has criticized Britain while Russia, which has granted Snowden temporary asylum, accused the British government of double standards over press freedom.

The Brazilian government, which has complained about the “unjustified” detention of Miranda, asked Britain to return the electronic equipment seized from him.

It was unclear what documents Miranda was carrying or what secrets could have forced Britain to act in such a way. Greenwald has vowed that Britain would come to regret its actions which he said were an attempt to intimidate him.

David Anderson, a lawyer who acts as Britain's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May on Thursday to say he would investigate whether the powers under which police detained Miranda were used lawfully.

Miranda's lawyers have also started legal action to ask judges to rule that his detention was illegal and his lawyer Morgan said they might seek to appeal the High Court's decision allowing the police to continue to inspect his material.

The Guardian said on Thursday that Miranda had been involved in legitimate journalistic activity. “We ... have grave concerns that today's judgment allows police to examine without any legal oversight journalistic material seized from David Miranda,” it said in a statement on its website.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs