British authorities claimed the domestic partner of US reporter Glenn Greenwald was involved in “terrorism” when he tried to carry documents from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden through a London airport in August, according to police and intelligence documents.
Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was detained and questioned for nine hours by British authorities at London Heathrow Airport on Aug. 18, when he landed there from Berlin to change planes for a flight to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
After his release and return to Rio, Miranda filed a legal action against the British government, seeking the return of materials seized from him by British authorities and a judicial review of the legality of his detention.
At a London court hearing this week for Miranda’s lawsuit, a document called a Ports Circulation Sheet was read into the record. It was prepared by Scotland Yard in consultation with MI5 and circulated to British border posts before Miranda’s arrival. The date of the document is unclear.
“Intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of UK national security,” according to the document.
“We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material the release of which would endanger people’s lives,” the document continued. “Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism.”
Miranda was not charged with any offense, although British authorities said in August they had opened a criminal investigation after initially examining materials they seized from him.
They did not spell out the probe’s objectives.
A key hearing on Miranda’s legal challenge is scheduled for next week. The new details of how and why British authorities decided to act against him, including extracts from police and MI5 documents, were made public during a preparatory hearing earlier this week.
British authorities have said in court that items seized from Miranda included electronic media containing 58,000 documents from the US National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters.
Greenwald, who previously worked for Britain’s the Guardian newspaper, has acknowledged that Miranda was carrying material supplied by Snowden when he was detained.
In an e-mail, Greenwald condemned the British government for labeling his partner’s actions “terrorism.”
“For all the lecturing it doles out to the world about press freedoms, the UK offers virtually none ... They are absolutely and explicitly equating terrorism with journalism,” he said.