Protests after Britain detains partner of Snowden journalist | News | DW | 19.08.2013
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Protests after Britain detains partner of Snowden journalist

British authorities have been criticized for detaining the partner of a journalist linked with the US whistleblower Edward Snowden. Police, accused of intimidation, say standard anti-terrorist legislation was used.

British authorities have been challenged to defend the detention at London's Heathrow Airport of the partner of a journalist who released information from US security operative Edward Snowden.

David Miranda, the Brazilian husband of Guardian reporter and blogger Glenn Greenwald, was detained for almost nine hours under British anti-terror legislation - the maximum time permissible without an arrest being made.

According to Greenwald (pictured), British officials confiscated electronic equipment belonging to Miranda, including his laptop, mobile phone and USB memory sticks. Greenwald, a US journalist-based in Brazil, published details of mass surveillance programs by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

The 28-year-old Miranda was returning home to Rio de Janeiro from Germany, where he was staying with US documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. Poitras has been working with Greenwald on the NSA story, and is believed to be the only other person in possession of rare complete archives of the leaked material.

London's Metropolitan Police confirmed that a 28-year-old male had been detained at Heathrow airport under British anti-terrorist legislation. The law, police said, gave British border officials the right to question someone "to determine if that individual is a person concerned in the commission, preparation or execution of acts of terrorism."

A police spokesman said the man was not arrested and was subsequently released.

'Grave concern' in Brasilia

The Brazilian government said its embassy in London had contacted UK officials ahead of Miranda's release. Brazilian officials said "grave concern" had been expressed about the steps taken that led to their citizen being "held incommunicado."

A statement from the foreign ministry in Brasilia said it would also be asking US officials for an explanation about the incident.

In a post on the Guardian website, Greenwald accused the UK authorities of using tactics of intimidation against those who report on the Snowden affair.

"This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism," Greenwald said. "It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic."

Former NSA contractor Snowden was granted asylum in Russia on August 1, having spent more than five weeks stranded in a Moscow airport avoiding extradition to the United States. Snowden is wanted on espionage charges linked to his media disclosures.

rc / ch(AP, AFP, Reuters)