Glenn Greenwald’s Partner Detained by UK Authorities Under Anti-Terrorism Law

Greenwald Miranda

Journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda was detained by UK officials and held for nine hours in London this weekend on his way home to Rio de Janeiro from Berlin.  Miranda–who had been visiting Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who broke the Edward Snowden story with Greenwald in The Guardian–was eventually released, but all his electronics, including a phone, laptop, camera and other items, were confiscated.  The Guardian, which employs Greenwald, reports:

The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.

Miranda was released, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.

David1-e1366307499571-287x300In a follow up piece, The Guardian noted that David Anderson, a lawyer who serves as the UK's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, called Miranda's detention 'unusual,' and said the incident should be investigated fully:

Britain's anti-terrorist legislation watchdog has called on the Home Office and Metropolitan police to explain why anti-terror laws were used to detain the partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald for nine hours at Heathrow airport.

Amid mounting concern across the political spectrum over the treatment of David Miranda, David Anderson QC said the detention of Greenwald's partner on Sunday appeared to be "unusual".

Miranda said he was questioned by six agents on his "entire life" while held at Heathrow. Arriving at Rio de Janeiro airport on Monday, Miranda said: "I remained in a room. There were six different agents coming and going. They asked questions about my entire life, about everything. They took my computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory card. Everything."

At a press conference today in Washington, Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the Obama administration had been informed about the questioning but had not taken any part in the decision to detain Miranda in London.

"There was a heads-up that was provided by the British government," Earnest said during the press conference. This is something that we had an indication that was likely to occur but it is not something that we requested. It was something that was done specifically by the British law enforcement officials. This is an independent British law enforcement decision that was made."


  1. litper says

    Why do we care about these people who actively support anti-gay terrorism in Russia? Let them flee to their beloved Russia and see how long they can survive without arest for “gay propaganda” or being beaten by neo-nazi mob!

  2. Brian says

    For what it’s worth, Miranda was acting as the middle man between Greenwald in Brazil and the documentary filmmaker that recorded the Snowden Hong Kong interview in Germany.

    He was possibly trafficking in sensitive documents and I don’t blame the UK for seizing his laptop. You stop being “just a spouse” when you start involving yourself in the news gathering operation.

    Greenwald’s response in a Guardian story was bitchy, per his usual demagoguery. He called the British authorities despots doing the Americans dirty work. He said he will now publish more UK secrets in retaliation.

    His retaliation threat should remind everyone that Greenwald’s true motives aren’t patriotic or libertarian or protecting freedom. It’s a pissy ass queen who is always right and never wrong and stop at nothing in order to show his superiority. His narcissism knows no bounds… similar to Julian Assange.

  3. will says

    This article is not about Russia. It’s pretty clear the only reason David was detained was because Glenn, an American citizen, embarrassed the U.S. government by giving Snowden a voice at the Guardian and detailing U.S. and British mass surveillance programs. This is pay back. And it’s malicious.

  4. Steve says

    Thank you Brian — much of the coverage of this story is omitting the fact that Miranda was serving as a mule and was trafficking secret documents for Greenwald and Poitras.

  5. The Milkman says

    Wow, what amazingly biting commentary from people who know nothing about what really happened.

    I for one think that Greenwald et al did Americans a huge favor by bringing to light the confirmation of mass public surveillance that most of us already suspected was happening. It continues to spur a conversation about the right to privacy, the first amendment, and the balance between security and liberty… a conversation that Americans should have been having long ago. Whether or not he is a narcissistic “pissy queen” is irrelevant, as is the age and ethnicity of his partner.

  6. The Milkman says

    And one more thing… whether one agreed with Greenwald or not, detaining his partner under a terrorism law is patently absurd. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would truly consider this guy a terrorist. He wasn’t detained for terrorism related issues, but it was under that law (akin to the Patriot Act in the US) that he was taken into custody. That should shock and concern ANY American, no matter what their political stripes look like.

  7. tom says

    Gays and lesbians who are aligning themselves with this sort of activity are walking a fine line between “reporting” and treason. The last thing we need is to be labeled as untrustworthy and disloyal to our own country – a theme that is already gaining traction.

  8. some yank in Rio says

    I’m seeing not only a serious lack of perspective in a lot of these comments but also some warped recist slags at David Miranda.

    Using police powers that were granted for anti-terrorism to intimidate journalists deemed enemies of the state is a monstrous abuse of power and breach of trust.

    Does anyone seriously think that the long overdue conversation on secret NSA activities would have happened without Snowden?

    For all it’s weaknesses, I’m more and more glad I moved to Brasil. @Dan – you don’t give up residency in your own country because it doesn’t recognize your partner for a boytoy. You do it for a spouse.

  9. says

    This shameful deliberate manipulation of the Anti-Terrorism law at the behest of the US NSA is nothing short of disgraceful.
    The erosion of Civil Liberties for the political purposes of the USA establishment is the greatest threat to democracy. And the intimidation of journalists is subverting all our freedom. How ironic that the USA which parades its “liberty” should be instrumental in destroying it.

    Four weeks ago, when the USA thought Snowden would make a bolt for Iceland or Cuba, the USA applied to the High Court in Dublin, Ireland for a ‘provisional arrest warrant’ in the belief that the flight he, Snowden, would be on, would refuel at Shannon and he could be arrested on foot of that provisional warrant.
    Fortunately the High Court judge unceremoniously threw out the ludicrous application of the grounds that there was no charge to answer, no identifiable person within the jurisdiction and it is not part of the law of act as ‘preventative justice’.

    The USA has destroyed our rights to privacy and liberty and is steaming because Snowden told us…..not the enemy as they say, he told us… in We the People.

  10. says

    @ Tom :
    It’s scared people like you who refuse to STAND UP against erosion of our rights whether in the schoolyard or in public life and in Civil Liberties issues.
    Since when can the USA’s bugging of all calls and communications all over the world, including its NATO allies, be a “fine line between treason and reporting” ?

    STAND UP, Tom, shout now or remain forever silent when your rights are swept away.
    And you should know the examples of that from history.
    Grow a pair.

  11. Dan says

    I’m sorry, but a relationship with someone 17 years your junior smacks of narcissism and control issues. It is the sign of someone who doesn’t truly want an “equal” relationship, but who wants someone they can control and be superior to. Miranda was 20 years old (or younger) when they started dating. I don’t doubt Glenn “loves” his boytoy, but let’s not sugarcoat what’s going on here. (And, btw, we’re not even getting into possible deeper issues related to insecurity and superficiality here…)

  12. emjayay says

    Gee whiz guys, maybe they like each other. And yes of course he was carrying documents on the computer or drives. However, no one here knows what the documents are or whether they were illegal in any way.

    Detaining the guy for nine hours was probably a bit of a shortsighted move by Brit authorities.

  13. will says

    This all brings up a central issue of the entire secret government we have in place (CIA, NSA, FBI, etc): do journalists have a right to report on stories that the government does not want publicized? If the secret government agencies are spying on its own citizens, do journalists have a right to report it? Glenn Greenwald is absolutely NOT a part of the Washington journalist establishment (like David Gregory and the Washington Post, etc). He is and always has been a bit of an outsider & a renegade. He deeply BELIEVES in a more open transparent government. That’s why Snowden was attracted to him in the first place.

  14. Name: says

    There other ways of moving files than carrying them on your computer. He might have set up his rent boy but he’s looking a little old so maybe he wanted a younger one.

  15. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    I hope the Guardian is going to reimburse Miranda for his confiscated property; several thousand dollars-worth of computers, phones, etc…

    The US government routinely-confiscates US citizens’ phones, laptops, memory-cards when they re-enter the US from aboard…and ICE doesn’t even need probable-cause.

  16. JJ says

    @Tom, reporting government secrets is not treason, in the U.S. It’s expressly protected by the 1st Amendment, which reads in part, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…” The U.S. government can’t evade the 1st Amendment by declaring it illegal to report what they do. Nor can they dictate who does or does not qualify as an agent of the press and therefore is or is not protected by the 1st Amendment. The only people who by law cannot divulge U.S. secrets are those who took an oath _under penalty of law_ to keep those secrets–that is, people with security clearances. No one else is obligated to keep U.S. secrets secret. If the U.S. government wants to keep somethimg secret, it’s the resposibility of the U.S. government to keep the secret from falling into the hands of anyone without a security clearance.

  17. Lee says

    JJ take that communist BS and shove it the government can and should do whatever needed to keep TRATORS like this schmuk from leaking nations secrets and I say tie him to the chair and fry him just like like the rosenburg witch!

  18. JJ says

    @Lee, the number of people in the U.S. who died of terrorist attacks on Sep 11, 2001, was about 3000. The number of people in the U.S. who died from tobacco that day was about 1200 ( The number who died from terrorist attacks on Sep 10 was zero. From tobacco, 1200. The number who died from terrorist attacks on Sep 12, zero. From tobacco, 1200. Do you see a pattern here?

    Let’s look at that whole decade. The number who died from terrorist attacks, still about 3000. The number who died from tobacco, about 4.5 million. The number who died from bladder cancer, about 100,000. So tobacco is about one and a half thousand times worse than terrorism in terms of U.S. fatalities, and bladder cancer about 30 times worse.

    So if you think the government can and should torture people to death to protect us from terrorists, who aren’t even in the top 100 causes of death, what would you have them do to tobacco makers and smokers?

    You don’t need to answer that, Lee. I think by now, anyone reading this can see you pretty clearly for the cowering little p€ss¥ boy that you are, eager to tear down our democracy to fend off the Bad Men who are so insignificant that the threat they pose isn’t even worth calculating.

  19. ratbastard says

    Isn’t the reason guys like Greenwald love going to places like Brazil because it’s easier for them to the things they like to do compared to [for example] the U.S.? I agree with another poster who says it smacks of serious psychological issues.

    If Miranda was acting as a mule, then there’s no surprise here. He and Greenwald should be squeaky clean when entering and leaving the country. They and the Guardian should have know what could and did happen. Maybe they set up so this ‘outrage’ would happen?


    I’m not defending the illegalities the U.S. government and it’s intelligence services and executive branch engage in. Ditto the British…or any one else.

  20. JJ says

    @Ratbastard, it’s more likely the U.S. and Brits set this up. Miranda’s detainment under Schedule 7 casts him as a terror suspect. This gives the NSA a pretext to obtain warrants to eavesdrop “legally” on any U.S. citizen who communicates with him, like, say, Glenn Greenwald.

    Secondly, Miranda isn’t a “mule” and he isn’t “trafficking” in government secrets. It would be perfectly legal for him to possess and transport documents that the government wishes were secret. It’s only a crime for someone with a security clearance to divulge secrets that they’ve sworn to protect.

  21. Koskalaka Maricón says

    Freedom of the press? We don’t need no freedom of the press! Be afraid…be very, very afraid. Big brother is, now, doing much more than just listening and watching: they’re now, at the very least, abusing and confiscating otherwise free persons and personal property.

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