U.K. high court rules David Miranda's detention was lawful

Glenn Greenwald's partner was held for nine hours in transit at Heathrow airport, carrying journalistic materials

By Natasha Lennard

Published February 19, 2014 6:30PM (EST)

Last August, Glenn Greenwald's long-term partner, David Miranda, was detained for nine hours at Heathrow airport en route to his home in Brazil from visiting journalist Laura Poitras in Berlin. Miranda, whose electronics were confiscated during the detention, was held under a British counterterror law.

On Wednesday, three high court judges in the U.K. dismissed Miranda's challenge to the lawfulness of his airport detention. While the judges conceded that holding Miranda and the seizure of his electronic devices was "an indirect interference with press freedom," they ruled the action justified by "very pressing" interests of national security. Miranda, it is worth reiterating, had on his person at the time of his detention a wealth of encrypted files, including an external hard drive containing 58,000 highly classified intelligence documents -- these were documents specifically intended to assist Greenwald's journalistic work. Greenwald, serving as a witness in his partner's legal challenge, stressed the dangerous precedent set when journalism is conflated with terrorism.

Via the Guardian:

Greenwald told the judges that the security services were well aware that the seized material was in connection with journalism and not terrorism. He said there was no evidence to indicate that any disclosure had actually threatened or endangered life or any specific operation.

"In my view, this is not surprising, given the care we took not to create such a risk," Greenwald said in his witness statement. Miranda said the material was so heavily encrypted that he was unable to open it.

The judges dismissed Greenwald's claims, saying there was "no perceptible foundation" for the suggestion that they were not putting national security or lives at risk by possessing the material.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Counter-terror David Miranda Edward Snowden Glenn Greenwald Heathrow Laura Poitras Nsa U.k.