Detention of partner of key journalist in Edward Snowden leaks was lawful: high court

Britain’s High Court on Wednesday endorsed the decision by police to hold journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner at a London airport on terrorism grounds last summer. The ruling sent chills through free expression advocates and media groups.

LONDON — Britain’s High Court on Wednesday endorsed the decision by police to hold journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner at a London airport on terrorism grounds last summer. The ruling sent chills through free expression advocates and media groups.

The panel of three judges said London’s Metropolitan Police officers acted properly when they invoked Britain’s Terrorism Act to stop David Miranda at Heathrow Airport on Aug. 18, seizing encrypted devices and questioning him for nearly nine hours. Writing on the panel’s behalf, Lord Justice John Laws said that the devices contained a large number of files stolen by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, including nearly 60,000 “highly classified UK intelligence documents.”

The detention “was a proportionate measure in the circumstances,” Laws said. He said the objective — finding out whether there was anything in the files which might be a boon to terrorists — “was not only legitimate, but very pressing.”

Both sides acknowledge that Miranda was carrying intelligence documents at the time when he was detained on his way from Germany back to Brazil. But defenders of the 28-year-old student argue that the documents amounted to raw material for Greenwald’s reporting on the National Security Agency, which has rattled the intelligence establishment and sparked a broad-based movement to rein in or at least reform the agency’s domestic surveillance programs.

The government, they say, wasn’t trying to determine whether there was anything in Miranda’s files which could somehow help terrorists. Rather, it arbitrarily tarred him as a terror suspect in order to seize his files and intimidate his colleagues.

The use of terror legislation in this case has drawn widespread criticism.

Rosie Brighouse, a legal officer with London-based Liberty, said the law had been used in a “blatantly abusive way,” while Paris-based Reporters Without Borders demoted the U.K. three ranks in its World Press Freedom Index following the incident.

Others accused the government of trying to put investigative reporters in the same bag as nihilistic killers.

“It is only in the U.K. where our journalism is considered not just criminal but ’terrorism,”’ Greenwald said Wednesday in a statement carried by The Intercept, his new media venture.

Some legal commentators said that was taking things too far.

“It’s pushing the judgment to say that it equates journalism to terrorism,” said Carl Gardner, a former government lawyer and legal blogger.

David Lowe, a former counterterrorism officer who teaches law at Liverpool John Moores University, said the quantity and the sensitivity of Miranda’s material made him an exception.

“This is not just ordinary, everyday journalism we’re talking about,” said Lowe, explaining that journalistic privilege had to be balanced against national security. “It’s about the greater good, and the greater good is keeping us safe.”

Government officials welcomed the ruling.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the judgment “overwhelmingly supports” action taken to protect national security, while the Metropolitan Police described it as a “clear vindication” of the force’s conduct.

Miranda said he would appeal.

Just Posted

Severe thunderstorm watch for Central Alberta

Thunderstorm watch covers large area including Sylvan Lake to Stettler

Bird on a wire causes electrical problems in Red Deer

City workers put protective covers on line

WATCH: Kayakers go over Ram Falls south of Nordegg

Two take 30-metre plunge, post video of thrill ride

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

Nightly closures on Taylor Drive next week

Taylor Drive to be closed Monday to Friday night for bridge demolition work

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

From hot to not? The Baloney Meter weighs in on Scheer’s economy claims

OTTAWA — “Justin Trudeau inherited a booming economy, but he’s squandering it.… Continue reading

Scathing suicide inquiry finds gaps, shortcomings at Royal Military College

OTTAWA — Members of a board of inquiry into three suicides at… Continue reading

Premiers strike deal to allow increased flow of beer, alcohol across borders

ST. ANDREWS, N.B. — Canada’s premiers are set to wrap up their… Continue reading

Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

President Donald Trump has indicated that he’s willing to hit every product… Continue reading

Canada’s annual inflation rises 2.5% thanks to boost from higher energy prices

OTTAWA — The country’s annual inflation rate rose 2.5 per cent in… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month