UK unlawfully detained partner of Snowden reporter, lawyers say

Updated
David Miranda (L), partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald (R), landed on Monday at dawn at Tom Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro,...
David Miranda (L), partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald (R), landed on Monday at dawn at Tom Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro,...
Joao Laet/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Attorneys for Brazilian citizen David Miranda, the partner of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, say their client was unlawfully detained by London Metropolitan police and that they will be seeking legal redress. In an Aug. 20 letter to British Home Secretary Theresa May and London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Miranda’s attorney’s called his detention a “flagrant misuse” of power and said they would be seeking damages.

Over the weekend, police held Miranda at London’s Heathrow airport for nine hours, the maximum amount of time a person can be legally detained without charges under the UK’s Terrorism Act. Miranda’s attorneys say their client’s laptop, phone, memory stick, hard drive, and other electronics were also inappropriately confiscated.

Greenwald, an attorney and long-time commentator on civil liberties and national security issues, recently found new prominence as one of the journalists with greatest access to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked documents outlining the United States’ surveillance programs. In their letter, Miranda’s attorneys write, “it appears clear that the decision to detain, question and search our client was driven by a desire to obtain access to the confidential journalistic material that was in our client’s possession.” Multiple British government sources have confirmed to NBC News that US officials did not instigate Miranda’s detention.

Following his partner’s detention, Greenwald told reporters that the incident had only encouraged him to be more “aggressive” in publishing leaks from Snowden.

“I have many documents on England’s spy system,” he said. “I think they will be sorry for what they did.”

In a statement to the press, Metropolitan Police called Miranda’s detention “legally and procedurally sound.”

“The examination of a 28-year-old man under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Heathrow Airport on Sunday 18 August was subject to a detailed decision making process,” according to the statement. “The procedure was reviewed throughout to ensure the examination was both necessary and proportionate.”

Miranda—who is not once referred to by name in the press statement—told the Guardian that he was offered legal representation during his detention but refused it.

“They were threatening me all the time and saying I would be put in jail if I didn’t co-operate,” he said. “They treated me like I was a criminal or someone about to attack the UK.”

Miranda may not be the only person with Greenwald and Snowden connections to receive a visit from British authorities. In a Monday columnGuardian editor Alan Rusbridger claimed that the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters sent two “security experts” to destroy hard drives in the Guardian’s basement. A spokesperson for GCHQ declined to comment to MSNBC.

Watching MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, MSNBC.com executive editor Richard Wolffe and Huffington Post’s Sam Stein discuss Miranda’s detention:

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UK unlawfully detained partner of Snowden reporter, lawyers say

Updated