A US journalist who has written stories based on documents leaked by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden said on Monday that he would publish with more fervor after British authorities detained his partner.
London police detained David Miranda under anti-terror legislation as he arrived at Heathrow Airport in London on Sunday. Miranda, who is in a civil union with reporter Glenn Greenwald, arrived on Monday in Rio de Janeiro, where he lives with the journalist.
A defiant Greenwald, who reports for the Guardian in Britain, promised he was going “to write much more aggressively than before” about government snooping.
“I’m going to publish many more things about England, as well,” he said in Portuguese at Rio’s international airport when Miranda arrived. “I have many documents about England’s espionage system, and now my focus will be there, too. I think they’ll regret what they’ve done.”
In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the US government was tipped off by British counterparts that Miranda would be detained, but the US had not requested the action.
The spokesman did not respond to a question about whether US officials may have discouraged British officials from stopping Miranda.
Brazil’s government objected to Miranda’s detention, saying it was not based on any real threat.
London’s Metropolitan Police defended the decision to detain Miranda, saying the examination was both “necessary and proportionate.”
Miranda told the Guardian that agents questioning him “were threatening me all the time and saying I would be put in jail if I didn’t cooperate.”
Miranda said he was seized almost as soon as his plane landed at Heathrow.
“There was an announcement on the plane that everyone had to show their passports. The minute I stepped out of the plane, they took me away,” he said.
Agents confiscated Miranda’s computer, external hard drive, cellphone, DVDs, memory sticks and some paper documents.
In London, a British MP called for police to explain why Miranda was detained and why it took nearly nine hours to question him.
Miranda was held for nearly the maximum time that British authorities are allowed to detain individuals under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which authorizes security agencies to stop and question people at borders.
Keith Vaz, chairman of Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, told the BBC that “you have a complaint from Mr Greenwald and the Brazilian government — they indeed have said they are concerned at the use of terrorism legislation for something that does not appear to relate to terrorism. So it needs to be clarified, and clarified quickly.”
Vaz said it was “extraordinary” that police knew that Miranda was Greenwald’s partner and that the authorities were targeting partners of people involved in Snowden’s disclosures.
The case drew the ire of watchdog groups.
“It’s incredible that Miranda was considered to be a terrorist suspect,” Human Rights Watch UK director David Mepham said. “On the contrary, his detention looks intended to intimidate Greenwald and other journalists who report on surveillance abuses.”