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Glenn Greenwald’s partner detained at London airport, items confiscated

Glenn Greenwald’s partner detained at London airport, items confiscated

The partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald was detained and questioned for nine hours on Sunday at Heathrow airport in London as he was returning home to Rio de Janeiro.  Authorities ultimately released him, but not before confiscating several pieces of his electronics equipment.

From The Guardian:

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.30am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.

Miranda was then released without charge, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.

The Guardian article also points out that Miranda had visited Laura Poitras while in Berlin before his return home.

Poitras is the US filmmaker who produced the video interview that unmasked Edward Snowden to the world as the source of the NSA surveillance program leaks.  She has been described as the ‘mastermind’ behind the Snowden disclosures.

Poitras has said she began speaking with Snowden in January, 2013, when he first contacted her anonymously via email.

Snowden took the job working as an NSA contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton in March for the specific purpose of obtaining access to the information he leaked.  Recent reports have indicated that he also downloaded NSA secrets while working for Dell as a contractor.

While that timeline has led to speculation about what role some journalists connected to the story may have actually played in it, Poitras herself denied such speculation in her interview with Salon.

According to Poitras, Snowden had chosen to contact her because of her previous work with another former NSA employee, Bill Binney.  Binney had exposed some of the same revelations about the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities, which were highlighted in a 2012 video interview produced by Poitras.

In a statement that Greenwald posted to The Guardian in response to today’s incident, Greenwald indicates that Miranda was questioned specifically about the NSA reporting.

The stated purpose of this law, as the name suggests, is to question people about terrorism. The detention power, claims the UK government, is used “to determine whether that person is or has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

But they obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot. Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying. They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop “the terrorists”, and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.

The detention of Greenwald’s partner highlights just how closely officials have kept a watch on things.  And there has been quite a bit of activity in recent days that seems to signify the delicate environment at this time.

As the Foreign Policy blog pointed out, the legal team for Edward Snowden’s father has been more vocal about its distrust of the people surrounding the NSA leaker.

Earlier on Thursday, Ed and Lon Snowden spoke to one another for the first time since the NSA imbroglio began. Against the advice of their lawyers, they talked via an encrypted chat system for some two hours. What they discussed is unknown. (What does a father say to his son when he has exiled himself from his country after exposing its most closely held secrets?)

Some time after that conversation, the Journal story went up. “The thing we have been most concerned about is that the people who have influence over Ed will try to use him for their own means,” Mattie Fein told the paper. “These guys have their own agenda here and we aren’t so sure that it has Ed’s best interest in mind.”

In short: We don’t trust Assange and Greenwald.

Edward Snowden quickly fired back in a statement to the Huffington Post, saying, in short, that he disagrees and that his father and his father’s attorneys do not speak for him.

Then came the news mentioned above, which US officials conveniently shared, indicating they believe Snowden also downloaded confidential materials while working as an NSA contractor at Dell, even prior to his employment with Booz Allen Hamilton.

And on Friday, just on the heels of another NSA leak in the Washington Post, Wikileaks released nearly 400GB in ‘insurance’ files, without specifying why it decided to do so at this time. (We also don’t know who holds encryption keys to the files).

Whatever is happening, it seems the Snowden saga might be about to get more interesting in upcoming days and weeks.



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toddlouisgreen | August 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm

A guy named MIRANDA being held nine hours for questioning without a lawyer. I LOL’d.

BannedbytheGuardian | August 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Very quick Todd -Plus they are holding up the lawful transit of gays with secrets .


If there is one thing the Brits have knowledge of – homosexuals & national secrets . The Brit ones are very clever eg the ww2 code breaking guy – but they gave him no quarter & did not trust him after the event. They were quite happy for his suicide.

BannedbytheGuardian | August 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Miranda is lucky he did not end up inside his internally locked suitcase in the cloak room .

The Russians have plutonium & the Brits have suitcases.

File under Well, Duh: “The thing we have been most concerned about is that the people who have influence over Ed will try to use him for their own means . . .These guys have their own agenda here and we aren’t so sure that it has Ed’s best interest in mind.”

Question for team Snowden…….HELLOOOO, anybody home?

I like the comment, Mr. Green! Detention + interrogation = requirement for the Fifth Amendment admonition in the United States known as the Miranda warning (Settled Law given us by the United States Supreme Court).

Mr. Banned points out Her Majesty’s Government is unrestrained by the Constitution of the United States or its Bill or Rights (which were provoked by the behavior of a previous Crowned Head namely George III).

In Mr. Banned’s comment is Chesterton pointing out that when you abandon the big laws (promoting chastity, purity and continence) you end up with lots of little laws (prohibiting ever changing standards of speech, commerce and thought based on nothing more than feelings).

How Shakespearean indeed: the destiny of states and the risking of lives of those who serve hinged on the integrity of a very few.

Thank you, Mandy and thank you, Professor!


    Carol Herman in reply to dmurray. | August 19, 2013 at 12:46 am

    1215. The Magna Carte. England has laws that have existed even earlier than our 1789 US Constitution.

    Yeah. Our bullies called the Brit’s. And, what’s exposed is that the “crowning glory” immediately thought it had to obey the Americans! who were looking for this “detainment.”

    So it got done. (After 9/11 the Brits passed an anti-terrorism bill.) And, NOW, as Americans have learned … what we got in exchange for 9/11 … was to see laws passed that have stripped us of our liberties.

    It looks good on paper.

    In reality? You’ll see OUTRAGE. And, it won’t be at Edward Snowden for telling us what he saw going on … but believe it or not … at the turkeys in DC!

    You think the cockroaches like it when they’re crawling around in the dark, and you snap on the overhead light.

    You really think they like it?

    I can’t wait to watch what Glenn Greenwald unfurls, ahead.

Someone sort of beat me to it, but I’ll ask directly.

Did he receive a Miranda Warning?

Miranda applies in the US.

I don’t know if it applies in an English airport.

If the Fifth Amendment protection against self incrimination by statement exists elsewhere I’d like to know where.

Start with a list of three other countries with names that begin “The Democratic Republic of…” or “The People’s Republic of…”

    platypus in reply to dmurray. | August 19, 2013 at 1:13 am

    You silly thing. It was sarcasm. Just because this is the most serious blog on the world wide inter-tubes doesn’t mean we don’t have a sense of humor. Sheesh!

This whole affair is getting stranger and stranger.

Was it Mark Twain who said “Don’t pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

3 hours into this harassment of Glenn Greenwald’s love (Dave Miranda), a call was made to Greenwad, that woke him at 5:30 AM … in Brazil … to tell them Miranda was being held (udner a “stopping terrorists” law)as he was TRAVELING THROUGH HEATHROW. Coming back from Berlin. Transiting Heathrow … (BIG MISTAKE TO FLY INTO THIS AIRPORT EVER! Let alone if you want to use the airport to make a connecting flight.)

They’ve kept this guy’s laptop. DVD. Cellphone. And, assorted computer games. And, have NOT returned them. When nine hours on the dot … David was able to connect to another flight to get home to Rio. In Brazil.

This is such a whole new level of stupidity … that just saying “sch*uck” doesn’t suffice. Greenwald says he’ll show his anger. By publishing MORE of Snowden’s secrets.

You know, once Glenn Greenwald was woken up, he called the Guardian. Who got to their lawyers. He also called the diplomats in Brazil. Who probably rattled Cameron out of bed …

And, you gotta wonder what possessed these “officials” at the airport … to think they wouldn’t be facing their own nightmares, ahead?

Watch for tomorrow’s Guardian headlines. (Reddit’s covered this story. So has Drudge.) So a real journalist can show his contempt for the idiots “whose powers that be.” As they’ll need lots of new underwear.

If I were Hanes’ I’d be planning my new “tidy whitie” ads right now. They’re gonna have to cover people who “get new ones.”

I don’t know how you do this so that it shows up as a link in blue. But the NY Times has done a wonderful piece of Laura Poitras. Who worked together with Glenn Greenwald. And, she went to Hong Kong (doing a 12 minute video which is imbedded in the long, long NY Times piece.) Cut & Paste? It’s a phenomenal read:

I don’t know “computer.” Sure. I have one. But it’s like my car. I don’t look under the hood. And, if anything goes wrong I have to call someone in. Or worse. Disconnect wires. And, carry my tower to the store.

If I could choose a password it would be composed of two letters. Or two numbers. But I’m forced to memorize “passwords.”

I’m not alone in this! In offices secretaries would write their passwords down and stick their note in some obvious place. (Oh, and we were told to change passwords once a week.) Good luck with that!

Laura Poitras is a documentary photographer. She’s done work that’s made it up to Oscar category. And, she’s very well versed in encryption. She actually hangs out with Glenn Greenwald, when she’s not in Berlin. And, she’s so super-duper conscious of wanting to keep her work “secret” … that she not only encrypts … but because she flies a lot … she learned how to get her “stuff” from here to there … bypassing the usual suspects: Government spy agencies. And, airline security. Which, if you read the article above, is fully detailed.

Ed Snowden at first tried to contact Greenwald. But Greenwald wanted no part of the encryption world. (Snowden then heard of Poitras. And, he contacts her (very cryptically). And, this is how Glenn Reynolds gets involved.

Imagine a world, when they arrived in Hong Kong, they’d take the batteries out of their cell phones. And, put them into the suite’s mini-bar refrigerator. Why? Government spies can listen in through your devices. Even when you think you’ve shut them off.

I respect people who will go through the trouble of encrypting data. I know if I did it all would be lost … because I wouldn’t remember where or what my key was. And, I’d feel everything was lost. I don’t have a sense of privacy when it comes to my computer. Again, if it breaks I have to go to the store … to have things fixed.

Oh, and I don’t bank on my computer. That’s a vulnerable spot I didn’t want. Because I’m more comfortable READING a statement mailed to me. Than thinking the computer’s monitor “is just the same as a piece of paper” … when it’s not.

Laur Poitras also uses safety deposit boxes (probably in Germany), where she thinks privacy gets more respect, than it would get in the USA, or UK.

Ed Snowden became a master at computing. And, even though America’s NSA is VAST … he knew enough to get around it.

He also chose Hong Kong. Greenwald, and Poitras flew in to meet him there. Snowden picked Hong Kong because the PEOPLE demand having an open society that the Chinese government cannot curtail those freedoms. Sure the CIA operates in Hong Kong. And, just about everyplace else on earth. But in Hong Kong, as information was exchanged … Snowden was not caught out.

We’re very close to losing our freedoms. It’s going to take a long time to absorb what Snowden has shared.

Will it make computer illiterates more knowledgeable about securing their data? Don’t look at me. I’m not about to “encrypt.” But, wow. More important to know how to do this than owning a gun.

Snowden didn’t learn his skills in school. (Remember, he didn’t go to college.) He learned it by learning how to program computers. And, the future? Unbelievable how computers can grab information together and data mine.

Back in the 1980’s the first hacker I read about was a guy who carried a whistle in his pocket. He’d pick up the receivers on pay phones, and blow his whistle. And, he was able to call anywhere in the world. Because AT&T’s system responded to the sounds of the whistle. (Now, we don’t have pay phones.)

Well, I’m wondering how the NSA going to change its clearance system, because they dropped the ball ridiculously here. Snowden was an espionage agent, and they completely missed it.

Here’s my memo to the NSA – don’t hire any more of those libertarian EFF types if you want to keep anything secret. And why the hell are we paying for background checks if they can’t catch a person who is doing all of the actions expected of an ideological subversive agent, including covert communications with a handler and plans to leave the country.

Clearly a conspiracy, illegal, and a direct challange to the U.S. Government. Does America want to pluck out the eye at the peephole, or trust the watcher?

    Icepilot in reply to Icepilot. | August 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I should add – an incompetent, faceless, blameless monster of good intentions, ever ready to guide us, in the smallest of things.

Partner? What a corruption of the language. He is Greenwald’s sodomite.

Not really surprised here. US and UK have worked closely together for more than 60 years , and our intelligence people and theirs are adept at taking advantage of holes between the laws of the different countries.

One example of this came out during the NSA FISA discussions under Bush(43). Apparently the US, UK, Australia, NZ, and maybe Canada had a deal where they would surveil the international communications of people in the other participating countries that crossed through them. Thus, the UK could listen into a call between someone in the US and, say, a cave in Pakistan or Afghanistan, if it crossed UK soil, and could turn the info over to the US if it appeared interesting. We would, of course, reciprocate. All perfectly legal – from our point of view, as long as a conversation is completely foreign, and no US persons are involved, we can do whatever we want w/o a warrant. It is only when either a US person is involved, or one end is in the US that FISA or the wiretap laws apply. Similar for these other counties.

I think that we may be seeing something similar here – the US couldn’t detain the guy, or search his electronics, absent a warrant, etc, under US law, and he might get some of Greewald’s de facto shield law protections here, but UK authorities apparently have much broader authority to do such to foreigners traveling through. So, I would expect that someone at the CIA, NSA, etc called up a counterpart in Her Majesties government and mentioned that this guy was flying through, and left the Britt to fill in blanks and help out his colleague,

The “geniuses” that took David Miranda into interrogation for 9 hours, overlooked that famous quip: “Dont’ start a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

For Miranda it was a “transit stop.” A flight from Berlin, to Heathrow JUST TO CHANGE PLANES … OR TO HAVE THE PLANE HE WAS ON fly out to Rio. In Brazil.

Then, of course, “IN THE NAME OF TERRORISM” they questioned David for 9 hours. All about Greenwald (who is not a terrorist). And, all about Laura Poitras, who divides her time between Rio (where she, too, lives in Greenwald’s house) … and, a safe apartment in Germany.

OKAY. 3 hours into this ordeal … 5:30 AM Rio time, an unidentified policemen … who gave a badge ID number only … Told Greenwald his boyfriend was “incommunicado.” IMMEDIATELY, Greenwald calls the Brazilian ambassador. And, the Guardian. Who get lawyers to go to the airport!

HELLO. You ever saw your building collapse while you were still in it? These “terrorism dudes” are about to discover what sunlight looks like … when it’s shined into their nefarious deeds.

How fast did this news then reach the public? BEFORE THE FULL 9 HOURS WERE UP … TA DA … REDDIT had it posted. Drudge had it posted. And, “even” the NY Times ran with this story on Page One.

A bigger story that Oprah’s “poor service” when trying to buy a $38,000 crocodile pocketbook.

And, here? The world’s still looking.

The diplomats from Brazil have been on camera (seen around the world). British diplomats are organizing “investigations” of the “process” … a law that gave government officials the ability to terrorize anyone they liked.

So, we’re gonna come down to a definition, ahead, where “terrorist” doesn’t mean just anybody.

And, Glenn Greenwald, as a journalist, has just the right sized lamp … and accoutrements … to keep this ball in play until he’s happy it’s been reviewed STRAIGHT. Kapish?