David Davis comments on the detention of David Miranda at Heathrow


As published in The Daily Mail;
“A journalist’s boyfriend who was detained at Heathrow for nearly nine hours was carrying top secret US government documents, it was claimed last night.

Police used counter-terrorism powers to stop and question David Miranda and seized computer memory sticks he was carrying.

The Brazilian is the boyfriend of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who yesterday claimed that the detention of his partner on Sunday was designed to send a message of intimidation’.

Mr Greenwald has written at length about the activities of British and US electronic spying agencies from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former CIA technician.

The documents provided by Snowden were reported by The Guardian, amid great fanfare, as showing the extent of mass surveillance’ by Washington. It claimed the US National Security Agency had direct access’ to the servers of leading internet companies. The paper also published details of spying operations carried out by Britain against foreign governments.

But critics questioned the merit of claims which, they said, amounted to nothing more than that spies had been engaged in spying’.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that Mr Miranda, who was returning from Berlin, had been in Germany to deliver, and collect, documents from the Snowden cache, which had been encrypted and stored on portable hard disks. He spent the previous week there with a documentary filmmaker, Laura Poitras, who has been working on the Guardian’s stories about the NSA and Britain’s monitoring centre, GCHQ.

Later editions of The Guardian yesterday made clear the newspaper had paid for Mr Miranda’s flights.

The Heathrow incident provoked a row over the powers contained in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act which were used to detain Mr Miranda, 28, who was questioned without access to a lawyer, and whether the actions threatened legitimate journalism.

After the claim that Mr Miranda had been carrying secret US documents, former Tory MP Louise Mensch described him as a classified data mule’, and wrote on Twitter: So it emerges the “spouse held to intimidate” story spun by Greenwald and the Guardian is a total and utter lie.’

She defended the use of the counter-terror powers, saying: Knowing that our agents were able to retrieve some encrypted Snowden data from Miranda reinforces the importance of the Terrorism Act.’

But Bob Satchwell, of the Society of Editors, said it was difficult to avoid the conclusion that the move was an attempt to intimidate a journalist.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, wrote to police asking whether the questioning of Mr Miranda was carried out at the request of the US government. The White House last night denied that was the case.

The official reviewer of terrorism laws, David Anderson, QC, said he had asked the police for a briefing about the case, and repeated his calls for the law to be reformed.

Mr Greenwald claimed the detention of his boyfriend was designed to send a message of intimidation’. He added: I will be far more aggressive in my reporting from now. I am going to publish many more documents. I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England’s spy system. They will be sorry for what they did.’

Mr Miranda said six different agents … asked questions about my entire life. They took my computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory card. Everything’.

The Brazilian government said his detention was a matter of grave concern’. The Guardian said it was dismayed’ at the incident.

Tory MP David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, said: This is absolutely not solely an operational matter for the police. This relates directly to Press freedom.’

A Home Office spokesman said: Schedule 7 forms an essential part of the UK’s security arrangements. It is for the police to decide when it is necessary and proportionate to use these powers.’”



As published in The Independent;
“Downing Street’s official denial that it played no behind-the-scenes role in the nine-hour detention of a Brazilian man at Heathrow airport was cast into doubt last night after a Washington official claimed the US was given a “heads-up” by the British government that “something was likely to occur”.

No 10 has so far refused to answer operational questions over the treatment of David Miranda, the partner of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, insisting that the decision to use UK anti-terror laws to question the Brazilian citizen had been taken by Scotland Yard.

Mr Miranda, 28, said that British customs officials had detained him for nearly nine hours – the maximum time permitted under schedule seven of the Terrorism Act 2000 – and forced him to reveal the passwords to his computer and mobile phone.

“They were threatening me all the time and saying I would be put in jail if I didn’t co-operate,” he told The Guardian. “They treated me like I was a criminal or someone about to attack the UK … It was exhausting and frustrating, but I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

Mr Miranda has been assisting his partner in making revelations linked to documents leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden. During his trip to Berlin, Miranda visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has been working with Mr Greenwald on the Snowden revelations. It was reported last night that Britain alerted the US authorities after Mr Miranda’s name appeared on a passenger manifest of the flight.

Published material from Mr Snowden concerning the operations of the US National Security Agency and its co-operation with Britain’s intelligence communications agency, GCHQ, has caused deep embarrassment to both governments.

Last night Scotland Yard defended the detention of Mr Miranda as “legally and procedurally sound”. A statement said: “The examination of a 28-year-old man under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Heathrow Airport on Sunday 18 August was subject to a detailed decision-making process.

The procedure was reviewed throughout to ensure the examination was both necessary and proportionate. Our assessment is that the use of the power in this case was legally and procedurally sound.”

The statement came after Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and the shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, both demanded that Scotland Yard explain why the UK’s anti-terror powers had been used to justify the airport detention.

Greenwald’s partner was on his way to Brazil, after a meeting in Berlin with a US film-maker who has also been working with The Guardian on the Snowden revelations. The newspaper had paid for Mr Miranda’s flights.

The Met has refused to explain why Mr Miranda was stopped, why it held him for the maximum nine hours allowed in law, and why personal possessions such as his computer, phone and digital storage devices were taken from him.

The Home Office has also been silent, claiming it was down to the police officers at the airport to make the operational decisions that led to the detention and questioning by six officials. Although the Home Office claimed the operation was “Met-led”, security sources told The Independent that officers from MI6 may have been among those involved in the lengthy questioning of Mr Miranda.

The matter was further complicated last night after a Washington official denied the US was involved in the decision to detain Mr Miranda but said it was given a warning by the British government that the obstruction was likely to occur. During a press conference at the White House, Josh Earnest, the deputy spokesman, said: “This was action taken by the British government and this was something that they did independent of our direction.

He added: “There was a ‘heads-up’ that was provided by the British government, so this was something we had an indication was likely to occur. But it is not something that we requested.”

David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, said ministers were using the excuse of national security to avoid questions on Mr Miranda’s detention. He urged Downing Street to reveal what it knew, claiming that the operational background must have gone beyond the control of the police.

The Met confirmed that it held a 28-year-old man at Heathrow between 8am and 5pm on Sunday under Schedule 7 and that the man had not been arrested. The Guardian said it was seeking clarification on the reasons for the detention. Liberty’s director, Shami Chakrabarti, said her organisation had already launched a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights over the use of Schedule 7.

Mr Greenwald accused the British authorities of bullying and intentional intimidation, linked to the Snowden revelations on the NSA. Mr Vaz has asked the Met to justify its use of anti-terrorism powers. He told the BBC: “I would not have expected it [the law] to be used in a case of this kind.”

Ms Cooper called for an investigation to be made into whether or not terror powers had been misused against Mr Miranda.”