U.S. had advance notice of Britain’s plan to detain reporter Greenwald’s partner

August 20, 2013

WPLogo

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials on Monday distanced themselves from the decision of British authorities to detain the Brazilian partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who has exposed details of NSA surveillance programs, amid questions over the documents officials may have confiscated.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that U.S. officials had received a “heads up” that London police would detain David Miranda on Sunday, but he said the U.S. government did not request Miranda’s detention, calling it “a law enforcement action” taken by the British government.

“This was a decision that was made by the British government without the involvement and not at the request of the United States government. It’s as simple as that,” Earnest said.

Miranda, 28, was detained by British authorities at Heathrow Airport on his way back home to Rio de Janeiro, having spent the previous week in Berlin with Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who has been working with Greenwald and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked NSA data to Greenwald and others.

Authorities interrogated Miranda for nine hours — the maximum allowed under the law that permitted his detention — and confiscated several items from him, including his laptop, cellphone, DVDs, USB sticks and videogame consoles.

Greenwald, in an email on Monday, said his partner had been questioned about a variety of subjects including “what stories we were working on at that moment.”

“David was asked mostly about the work Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I were doing on NSA stories, as well as extensive information about me and Laura,” Greenwald said. “He was also asked about Brazil, the political situation in Brazil, and his friends and family.”

The Guardian said that it paid for Miranda’s flights, and the paper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, noted Monday that although Miranda is not a journalist, “he still plays a valuable role in helping his partner do his journalistic work.”

Greenwald declined to respond to a question about whether Miranda had served as a courier for classified material related to the paper’s NSA coverage. In an earlier exchange, however, he said, he expected the data would be shared with U.S. authorities but was unconcerned.

“Everything he had — for his personal use and everything else — was heavily encrypted,” Greenwald said.

Earnest declined to say whether British authorities shared with the United States any intelligence they might have extracted from Miranda, as did a spokeswoman for the State Department.

Miranda was detained under Schedule 7 of Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000, which allows authorities to question individuals traveling through airports and border areas. In a 2012 review of the act, Britain’s Home Office said that more than 97 percent of people stopped under the law are questioned for less than one hour.

Several British politicians have demanded clarification on why anti-terrorism laws were used to detain Miranda. Keith Vaz, chairman of Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, wrote to police officials on Monday asking them who authorized the decision, among other things.

“It’s an extraordinary twist to a complicated story,” Vaz told the BBC on Monday morning. “They may have a perfectly reasonable explanation,” he said of the authorities who detained Miranda, ” but if this is what is going to happen, if we are going to use the act in this way, for those issues that are not related to terrorism, then at least we need to know so everyone is prepared.”

The Guardian disclosed Monday that British authorities have attempted to pressure the paper to turn over the material leaked by Snowden, or to destroy it. Rusbridger, in a column, said that at some point over the past month, security experts from the GCHQ intelligence agency oversaw the destruction of two hard drives in the Guardian’s basement, even though he pointed out to officials that the paper’s NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York.

“We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London,” Rusbridger wrote.

Adam reported from London. Philip Rucker in Washington, D.C. contributed to this report.

© 2013, The Washington Post

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Our Southern Zone Deep Dive is underway!
Tico Times Deep Dive
364 views
Tico Times Deep Dive
364 views

Our Southern Zone Deep Dive is underway!

Katherine Stanley - March 26, 2019

Our editorial team is making its first trip of the year – what we hope will be the first of many –…

Safe travels in Costa Rica: aiming for the sweet spot
Travel & Tourism
585 views
Travel & Tourism
585 views

Safe travels in Costa Rica: aiming for the sweet spot

Katherine Stanley - March 26, 2019

Traveling in Costa Rica is one of life’s great privileges, and The Tico Times has been proud to inspire, guide…

2019 Gold Cup field finalized; Costa Rica will host two matches
Costa Rica
793 views
Costa Rica
793 views

2019 Gold Cup field finalized; Costa Rica will host two matches

Alejandro Zúñiga - March 26, 2019

The field for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup is set. Costa Rica, the United States, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and Trinidad…