Miranda's Lawyers Threaten UK over 'Flagrant Misuse' of Authority
British government defends detention of journalist's partner and use of anti-terrorism law to search personal electronic devices and abridge civil liberties
Lawyers representing David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who was recently detained by British authorities under the unprecedented interpretation of a terrorism statute while passing through Heathrow Airport, have sent the UK's Home Office a letter demanding an apology for his treatment, clarification of the legal authority used, and indicating their willingness to file suit on behalf of their client if his electronic media are not returned, unspoiled immediately.
Miranda's nine-hour detention on Sunday has caused an uproar over what critics charge is the UK government's flagrant violation of individual and journalistic freedoms and a misuse of the statute known as Schedule 7, part of the UK's Terrorism Act 2000.
The letter from his lawyers claims the detention of Miranda was for "an improper purpose and was therefore unlawful," that the decision to cite Schedule 7 "amounted to a grave and manifestly disproportionate interference with [his] rights," and that overall the British authorities were guilty of "a flagrant misuse of the [their] statutory powers."
And the Guardian newspaper—which was given access to the letter by the law firm Bindmans in London—reports that "if the undertakings are not given by Tuesday afternoon [the lawyers] will have no option but to seek an urgent interim injunction in the high court."
The Guardian, which finds itself covering events while simultaneously becoming a prominent figure in the case, released a statement which read: "David Miranda has filed a legal claim with regard to his detention at Heathrow airport on Sunday 18 August under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act. The Guardian is supportive of that claim."
Though the newspaper paid for Miranda's flights to and from Germany for the trip in question, he is not an official employee, though he provides assistance to Greenwald's work.
Meanwhile, the UK government's Home Office went from defense to offense against outcry over the incident, claiming in public statements on Tuesday that it acted properly against Miranda, because the Brazilian man possessed "highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism."
Though they offered no context for how they believed Miranda's personal belongings might "help terrorism," the language used and lack of speculation in the statement seemed to indicate that government authorities had, indeed, already searched the electronic devices taken from Miranda, which included, according to the Guardian, "his mobile phone, laptop, memory sticks, smart-watch, DVDs and games consoles."
Anticipating that his devices had already been search, the letter from Miranda's lawyers included these stipulations:
The full letter, obtained by the Guardian, can be found here.
As the debate raged, the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald continued to provide his unique perspective on the situation via Twitter. At one point on Tuesday, Greenwald blasted news outlets, in this case CNN, for painting a false impression of the implications of Miranda's detention and the overall behavior of the US and UK governments in relation to the documents made available by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this year:
US/UK imprisons whistleblowers, calls journalists criminals for working with their sources, detain my partner under a TERRORISM law and take his passwords to his Facebook and email accounts, block Evo Morales' plane from flying, smash the Guardian's hard drives, but - WE are the ones being "threatening"
And Greenwald's full profile can be viewed here: