The British government gave the United States a “heads up” before detaining the partner of British journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA mass data collection story, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 14, 2013. Greenwald, The Guardian journalist who first reported Edward Snowden's disclosures of U.S. surveillance programs, says the former National Security Agency analyst has "very specific blueprints of how the NSA do what they do." Credit: AP
“They gave us a heads up,” Earnest said. “I'm not going to characterize conversations between law enforcement officials of this country and law enforcement officials there.”
Greenwald's partner David Miranda, 28, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by British law enforcement at 8:05 a.m. and informed he was to be questioned “under section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000,” the Guardian, where Greenwald works, reported.
Officials confiscated Miranda's eletronic equipment, including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVD, and game consoles.
The Guardian further reported that 97 percent of stops under this law are over in less than an hour.
Greenwald said that he would not be intimidated and that more coverage is on the way.
"I will be far more aggressive in my reporting from now. I am going to publish many more documents. I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England's spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did," Greenwald, speaking in Portuguese, told reporters at Rio's airport where he met Miranda upon his return to Brazil, according to Reuters. "They wanted to intimidate our journalism, to show that they have power and will not remain passive but will attack us more intensely if we continue publishing their secrets."
Earnest took several questions on the matter, emphasizing the "heads up" was given before the detainment, and repeatedly said it was a British law enforcement decision not a U.S. decision. He would not say whether the administration approved.
“It is something we had an indication was likely to occur but it's not something we requested and its something that was done specifically by the British law enforcement officials,” Earnest said.
Asked if the U.S. had access to Miranda's electronic information that was confiscated by the British, Earnest replied, “I'm not in a position to talk about conversations between British law enforcement officials and American law enforcement officials.”
Earnest did not answer what U.S. department was contacted by the British.
Greenwald was the journalist contacted by Edward Snowden regarding the NSA's controversial data-gathering practices.
Last week, The Washington Post reported on an audit showing such data has been improperly viewed thousands of times, despite assurances by the president himself that American citizens need not worry.
Still, Earnest stood by President Barack Obama's assertion that Americans are not being spied on.