US points finger at UK Government as row grows over journalist airport detention

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  By Angela Haggerty
 
The US government has denied any involvement in the detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, as he passed through Heathrow airport on Sunday.
 
Mr Miranda was held for almost nine hours when he arrived at Heathrow from Berlin and held under schedule seven of the Terrorism Act 2000. 

Mr Greenwald – the journalist who published material based on the information provided by US whistleblower Edward Snowden – described his partner’s detention as a “profound escalation of their attacks on the news gathering process and journalism”.

While he was held, the 28-year-old Brazilian was questioned by six agents and detained for the maximum amount of time permissible under the legislation.  According to Mr Greenwald, he was interrogated about the Guardian’s reports on the American National Security Agency (NSA) spying revelations from Mr Snowden.

The US have now claimed no involvement in the incident, with a spokesman saying the decision “was not made at the request or with the involvement of the US government”, but admitting authorities were given a “heads up” about the situation.

“The US government was not involved in that decision,” said US deputy spokesman Josh Earnest at a press conference.  “I’m not aware of what conversations Mr Miranda may have had with the British government, the detention was a decision made by the British government, any question about it, please direct to them”.

The White House would not comment when pressed on whether Mr Miranda was on a US Transportation Security Administration watch list or whether the US government had been given access to any information on his laptop, which was seized.

In addition to his laptop, British officials confiscated his mobile phone, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles. 

While in Berlin, Mr Miranda met with US film-maker Laura Poitras, who has been working with Mr Greenwald on the Snowden revelations on US surveillance tactics.  The Guardian paid for Mr Miranda’s flights and provided lawyers to assist him when he was detained.

In a blog post on the Guardian website, Mr Greenwald described the incident as a “failed attempt at intimidation” and said the UK and US authorities were “deluded” if they thought their tactics would prevent any further reporting.

The UK government has not commented on events but Labour MP Tom Watson said it was “almost impossible” for authorities to have concluded that Mr Greenwald’s partner was a terrorist suspect.  The Brazilian government expressed “grave concern” over Mr Miranda’s detention in a statement.