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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