In his first interview since being detained and interrogated for nine hours Sunday by British authorities under the Terrorism Act, David Miranda, the partner of the Guardian journalist who broke stories of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency this summer, has accused Britain of a “total abuse of power.”
Miranda told The Guardian on Monday that U.K. authorities pandered to the U.S. by trying to intimidate him into revealing passwords to his computer and mobile phone, which they succeeded in doing by repeatedly using the words “prison” and “station,” Miranda said. Officials in both countries want access to private records that they could use to build a public opinion or legal case against Miranda’s partner, journalist Glenn Greenwald.
“They were threatening me all the time and saying I would be put in jail if I didn’t co-operate,” Miranda said. “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.”
Miranda is a Brazilian who lives with Greenwald in Rio de Janeiro. He was held for the maximum time permitted under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows officers to stop, search and question people at airports, ports and border areas. He was returning to his home in Rio after visiting Berlin, where he was transferring materials between Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the American filmmaker who worked on the NSA stories. Poitras was named Truthdigger of the Week over the weekend.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Miranda was seized almost as soon as his British Airways flight touched down on Sunday morning. “There was an announcement on the plane that everyone had to show their passports. The minute I stepped out of the plane they took me away to a small room with four chairs and a machine for taking fingerprints,” he recalled.
His carry-on bags were searched and, he says, police confiscated a computer, two pen drives, an external hard drive and several other electronic items, including a games console, as well two newly bought watches and phones that were packaged and boxed in his stowed luggage.
… “This law shouldn’t be given to police officers. They use it to get access to documents or people that they cannot get the legal way through courts or judges,” said Miranda. “It’s a total abuse of power.”
He was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities. The questions, he said, were relentless – about Greenwald, Snowden, Poitras and a host of other apparently random subjects.
James Cridland (CC BY 2.0)