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Detention of Greenwald’s Partner Lawful, UK Court Rules

A British court ruled Wednesday that David Miranda, partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, was lawfully detained when he was held for nine hours London’s Heathrow airport last August.

A panel of three judges acknowledged that detaining Miranda and seizing his computer and other electronic equipment was an “indirect interference with press freedom” but said it was justified under counter-terrorism laws by “very pressing” national security issues. Miranda had challenged his detention, but the Royal Court of Justice dismissed his application for judicial review.

Miranda was stopped at Heathrow while en route from Berlin back to his home in Rio de Janeiro after meeting with Laura Poitras, who like Greenwald had been provided with sensitive documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Among the items seized from Miranda by British authorities was a computer drive with encrypted versions of British intelligence documents from Snowden’s trove.

One of the judges said that the material taken from Miranda included information that would allow the identification of intelligence personnel, and that he accepted the British government’s argument that disclosure of the material could cause “very great damage to security interests and possible loss of life.” In a statement to the court, Greenwald said he had taken care not to create a risk, and that no evidence showed any loss of life had occurred.