U.K. faulted for detaining partner of spy reporter

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RIO DE JANEIRO -- An American journalist who has written stories based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said Monday that he will publish with more fervor after British authorities detained his partner.

London police detained David Miranda, who is in a civil union with reporter Glenn Greenwald, under anti-terror legislation at Heathrow Airport in London on Sunday. Mr. Miranda arrived Monday in Rio de Janeiro, where he lives with Mr. Greenwald.

A defiant Mr. Greenwald, who reports for the Guardian newspaper in Britain, promised that he was going "to write much more aggressively than before" about government snooping.

"I'm going to publish many more things about England, as well," he said in Portuguese at Rio's international airport when Mr. Miranda arrived. "I have many documents about England's espionage system, and now my focus will be there, too. I think they'll regret what they've done."

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. government was tipped off by British counterparts that Mr. Miranda would be detained, but that the United States had not requested the action. The spokesman didn't respond to a question about whether U.S. officials may have discouraged British officials from stopping Mr. Miranda.

The Brazilian government objected to Mr. Miranda's detention, saying it wasn't based on any real threat.

Mr. Miranda told the Guardian on Monday that agents questioning him "were threatening me all the time, and saying I would be put in jail if I didn't cooperate."

Mr. Miranda said he was seized almost as soon as his plane landed at Heathrow. "There was an announcement on the plane that everyone had to show their passports. The minute I stepped out of the plane, they took me away," he said. Agents confiscated Mr. Miranda's computer, Wi-Fi watch, cellphone, DVDs, memory sticks and some paper documents.

In London, a British lawmaker called for police to explain why Mr. Miranda was detained, and why it took nearly nine hours to question him.

Mr. Miranda was detained for nearly the maximum time British authorities can hold individuals under the Terrorism Act's Schedule 7, which authorizes security agencies to stop and question people at borders.

Keith Vaz, chairman of Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee, told the BBC, "You have a complaint from Mr. Greenwald and the Brazilian government -- they indeed have said they are concerned at the use of terrorism legislation for something that does not appear to relate to terrorism. So it needs to be clarified, and clarified quickly."

Mr. Vaz said it was "extraordinary" that police knew that Mr. Miranda was Mr. Greenwald's partner, and that authorities were targeting partners of people involved in Mr. Snowden's disclosures.

The case drew the ire of watchdog groups. "It's incredible that Miranda was considered to be a terrorist suspect," said David Mepham, the British director at Human Rights Watch. "On the contrary, his detention looks intended to intimidate Greenwald and other journalists who report on surveillance abuses."

Britain's laws are not unique. U.S. customs officials can search without a search warrant the electronic devices of anyone entering the United States. According to a 2011 internal Homeland Security Department report, officers at the border can search the devices and, in some cases, hold onto them for weeks or months. The DHS has said such searches help law enforcement detect child pornographers or terrorists.

Mr. Greenwald has written about NSA surveillance programs based on files disclosed by Mr. Snowden, who now has temporary asylum in Russia. The Obama administration wants Mr. Snowden sent back to the United States to be tried for the leaks.

Mr. Miranda, a 28-year-old university student, was traveling home to Brazil after visiting Germany, where he met with Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker who has worked with Mr. Greenwald on the NSA stories.

British police acknowledged only that they detained a 28-year-old man at 8:05 a.m. Sunday. He was released at 5 p.m. without being arrested, the Metropolitan Police Service said. They did not comment further, and the Home Office also didn't comment.

A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said "Schedule 7 forms an essential part of the U.K.'s border security arrangements," but added that it was for police to decide "when it is necessary and proportionate to use these powers."

Brazil's Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota and his British counterpart, William Hague, spoke by phone Monday, the British Embassy in Brasilia said in a statement. "They agreed that Brazilian and U.K. officials will remain in contact on this issue. This remains an operational matter for the Metropolitan Police," British Ambassador Alex Ellis said in an emailed statement.

world

ourno revealing NSA leaks to retaliate after Brits detain partner. AP/WP.


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