Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Top editors chastise Britain over Snowden-linked detention

28 August 2013

The editors of several European newspapers published an open letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron denouncing the detention of David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald who used information leaked by Edward Snowden to report on the NSA for The Guardian.

“The implication of these acts may have ramifications far beyond the borders of the UK, undermining the position of the free press throughout the world,” wrote the editors of Sweden's Dagens Nyheter, Norway's Aftenposten, Denmark's Politiken and Finland's Helsingin Sanomat in The Observer on August 25.

Miranda was traveling back to Brazil on August 18 when he was detained at London’s Heathrow Airport and held for almost nine hours. The counterterrorism law used to justify the detention applies to airport and border areas and allows officers to detain and question individuals suspected of terrorism.

Greenwald is the reporter responsible for breaking a series of stories about the U.S. government’s domestic surveillance programs through documents leaked to him from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Miranda was en route from Berlin where he had been meeting with Laura Poitras, an American documentary film director who has been helping Greenwald report on the NSA files. Greenwald said in an opinion piece in The Guardian that he believes Miranda’s detention was UK authorities’ unlawful attempt at intimidation due to his controversial reporting.

“They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop ‘the terrorists’, and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name,” Greenwald said.

Miranda was released without being charged, but officials confiscated many of his possessions, including his cell phone, camera, memory sticks and laptop. Greenwald told Forbes he was “not worried at all” about officials obtaining information from the confiscated electronics because everything Miranda had was “highly encrypted.”

The UK government and Metropolitan police have justified the detention, saying the documents Miranda carried included “highly sensitive material” and "tens of thousands of highly classified UK intelligence documents, the unauthorized disclosure of which would threaten national security, including putting lives at risk," reported The Guardian. Justices from Britain’s high court issued a partial injunction prohibiting officials "inspecting, copying or sharing," according to The Week. The partial injunction expires on August 30, after which the High Court will reconsider Miranda's application for an interim injunction.

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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