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'I feel invaded'

Interview: Dom Phillips, Rio de Janeiro / ng
August 23, 2013

David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald, who broke Edward Snowden's NSA revelations for the UK's Guardian newspaper, talks to DW about being held for nine hours by UK authorities and the "power of the state."

A handout picture provided by Brazilian media network 'O Globo' shows Brazilian citizen David Miranda (L) and his partner Glenn Greenwald (R) as they arrive at international airport Galeao Tom Jobim in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 19 August 2013. Brazil on 19 August 2013 has criticized Britain over the detention 'without justification' of the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has written about secret US cyber-spying programmes leaked to him by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Brazilian citizen David Miranda, 28, was held for nearly nine hours at London's Heathrow airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act before being released without charge, British police sai EPA/Marcelo Piu / HANDOUT BRAZIL OUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

DW: You were held under the British Terrorism Act at London's Heathrow Airport when traveling to your hometown Rio de Janeiro from Berlin, where you had visited US filmmaker Laura Poitras, who is working with Greenwald. What was the interrogation like?

David Miranda: They asked me all kinds of questions, my relationship with Glenn, what role I played in the NSA stories, my relationship with Laura [who has been collaborating with Greenwald on a documentary about Snowden], what I went to do in Berlin. They asked about my family, my friends, what I do. Everything. They kept telling me if I don't cooperate I can end up in jail. That was the torture they were telling me the whole day.

What did you take to Berlin?

I took an external hard drive for Laura. I guess it was footage from when Glenn went to the Brazilian Congress. But I didn't go to Berlin to take that for her. I went to Berlin for a vacation. Laura is my friend. We have a really good relationship. On my way back, she gave me two USB sticks to give back to Glenn. They're journalists, they work on a thousand stories all the time, she works for the Guardian, Glenn works for the Guardian.

But you didn't know what was on it?

No, I didn't know and I didn't care to know because they are people that I trust.

The British government says you might have had information about the leaks from Snowden that could be dangerous for UK or US security. What do you say to that?

But they use this argument all the time. But I'm going to tell you one more thing. Glenn and Laura and the Guardian have been publishing [on this] for three months now, not making one mistake…they've been very careful with everything they've published, do you think they're going to make a mistake to publish soldiers' names, do you ever see in these last three months they put the names of the people? No.

All the articles they are doing, they put the biggest corporations that are working with the government to accountability, they are putting the government to accountability, … but now the states are saying they are going to put the soldiers on the line? Glenn never did that. Laura never did that. The Guardian never did that.

You had to give up all your passwords for them to use, how does that feel?

I feel naked in front of a crowd. I imagine every moment there is like a big room, with everybody just going through all my conversations, thinking about all my history, everything that I did. I feel invaded. And I feel very angry that somebody has the power to do that to somebody. This is unlimited power. You are obligated to give this. I'm not a terrorist. I'm traveling around the world. They just did this to send a message to those trying to challenge the power of what are they doing. And this is exactly what they are trying to accomplish here, and it is exactly the situation. They are bullying. But, this time, the entire world is paying attention. They're not going to be able to get away with this.

How did your partner, Glenn Greenwald, react?

Can you imagine the most important person in the world for you gets held under this law that holds terrorists. And he's been working for eight years on this, he's seen many cases where people under this law that these countries are using, that they have unlimited power to do anything. How do you think he would react to this entire situation? He was angry, he was frustrated but he was very concentrated on getting me out of there.

You've been with Glenn for almost nine years and you've helped him with his work in the past. What do you do, what is your job now?

I do strategies for marketing, as much as strategies for media. And I work on his career…I close the contracts for the books, for articles that he's going to write for different places, sometimes which kind of television show is better for you to show up on, which are not. I take care of his image, as a broker.

But, right now, I'm concentrated on his career and this is a big moment for both our careers, because there are a lot of exciting things happening for both of us and the more I get for him, the more I get for us because we are family and we work together and we are strong together.

How did your family in Brazil react?

Everyone was afraid for me because of the situation. You see what happened to Bradley Manning? He was the one who came out and told all the secrets about what everybody was doing in crimes of war, he told that to the world and showed up those that are doing the crimes, but he was the only one convicted. Do you understand what power the United States has, of shutting down all the systems?

Will you carry on helping Greenwald and Poitras?

Of course, I'm going to help them in any way I can, they are amazing and everything they have been doing. I'm very proud of what they're doing…But if you're a really serious journalist, you are going to go against the system because you are going to try to prove what the system is doing is wrong...this is the work of the journalist.

And this is what the Guardian and Glenn and Laura are doing and if you think this is wrong, this is terrorism, you should move to places like China.

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