Authorities in London on Sunday reportedly detained and questioned for nine hours the gay partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who has authored a series of recent articles exposing mass surveillance programs by the National Surveillance Agency (NSA).
The Guardian, Greenwald’s employer, reports the journalist’s partner, David Miranda, was held for nearly nine hours and questioned under the Terrorism Act at the UK’s Heathrow airport. Officials also confiscated Miranda’s electronics, including his cell phone, laptop, camera, and memory sticks, according to The Guardian, without saying when they would return the items.
According to the report, Miranda was stopped by UK airport officials at 8:30 AM and told he would be detained for questioning under schedule seven of the Terrorism Act of 2000. The law, reportedly allows officers to search and detain individuals at key transportation areas.
Miranda was reportedly released without being officially charged with anything. Authorities had detained him for the maximum amount of time allowed under the law before they would have had to issue a formal arrest, according to The Guardian.
A spokesperson for the Home Office in the UK reportedly did not offer comment to The Guardian.
Greenwald has penned a column published in The Guardian, corroborating the report and calling the detention of his partner a “failed attempt at intimidation.”
“[T]hey obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot,” wrote Greenwald. “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.”
Greenwald said the incident illustrates a growing crackdown on journalists.
“This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism,” he wrote. “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.”
Greenwald added that “even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they feel threatened by.”
An unidentified spokesperson for The Guardian said the news organization was shocked to hear of Miranda’s detention.
“We are dismayed that the partner of a Guardian journalist who has been writing about the security services was detained for nearly nine hours while passing through Heathrow airport,” the spokesperson said.
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