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U.K. Court Says David Miranda's Detention Was Lawful

A U.K. court says Miranda\'s August 2013 detention at London\'s Heathrow Airport was a \"proportionate measure in the circumstances.\"
Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 19, 2014

The partner of the former Guardian journalist at the center of the Edward Snowden disclosures lost his legal challenge to a U.K. court Wednesday over his detention at a London airport last August. 

David Miranda, a native of Brazil, was held at Heathrow Airport for nine hours while en route to Rio de Janeiro to meet with his partner Glenn Greenwald. Miranda was carrying an estimated 58,000 encrypted files of classified documents from the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ. (Via ITN)

Greenwald, of course, is one of the journalists who first published revelations of U.S. and U.K. spying thanks to classified documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. (Via The New York Times)

British authorities questioned Miranda during his nine-hour detention and stripped him of his laptop, cell phone and other electronics. He challenged the legality those actions and said he suffered "psychological violence."

But three high court judges said the actions of British authorities were lawful under a British anti-terrorism law. The judges ruled Miranda's detention was a "proportionate measure in the circumstances." (Via BBC)

Miranda's lawyers argued that holding him under that terrorism act was unlawful because Miranda was planning to hand off encrypted documents to Greenwald, a journalist, not commit acts of terrorism. 

The court acknowledged that the seizure of Miranda's items was "an indirect interference with press freedom," but ultimately said Miranda "was not a journalist and the seizure of stolen GCHQ intelligence material was 'not only legitimate, but very pressing.'" (Via The Telegraph)

According to NBC, one of the judges said the information could've outed the identities of intelligence personnel and could've led to a loss of life. 

A Guardian News & Media spokesperson responded to the ruling with disappointment, saying "The judgment takes a narrow view of what 'journalism' is in the 21st century and a very wide view of the definition of 'terrorism.' We find that disturbing."

The court dismissed Miranda's claim for a Judicial review. Miranda said on Greenwald's website, The Intercept, he plans to appeal the ruling.