In a move that surprised some media watchers, the British authorities last week claimed that journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was involved in terrorism by carrying documents from Edward Snowden through a London airport last August. Mark Hosenball of Reuters reported on police and intelligence documents that were presented in court last week, a result of a lawsuit Miranda filed after being "detained and questioned for nine hours by British authorities at Heathrow on Aug. 18, when he landed there from Berlin to change planes for a flight to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil."
Miranda lawsuit against the British government seeks the return of the materials that were seized from him by British authorities as well as a "judicial review of the legality of his detention."
One document that was read in court, "Ports Circulation Sheet," was prepared by Scotland Yard and MI5, Britain's equivalent of the CIA, had been sent to British border guards prior to Miranda's arrest. According to Hosenball, the documents said that "intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of U.K. national security.We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material the release of which would endanger people's lives. 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..."
A few media watchers were surprised by the accusation of "terrorism." Greenwald, who came to fame as an investigative reporter for the Guardian, sent an email to Reuters saying, "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."
In August, after his partner's detainment, Greenwald wrote, "This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic."
Snowden, who is in exile in Russia after releasing tens of thousands of classified documents previously, issued a statement arguing that "speaking the truth is not a crime." Meanwhile, a court document labeled "National Security Justification" said, "We strongly assess that Miranda is carrying items which will assist in Greenwald releasing more of the NSA and GCHQ material we judge to be in Greenwald's possession."
The next hearing on Miranda's suit is slated for next week.