The Snowden saga took another cryptic turn yesterday. Britain has got much explaining to do over why it detained the partner of a Guardian journalist, who reported on the leaks obtained by Snowden. David Miranda — the Brazilian partner of Glenn Greenwald was held at the Heathrow airport for nine hours and questioned extensively. Britain invoked its anti-terrorism law to question the journalist, who was passing through London from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro.
The move by the British government has raised eyebrows with the country’s opposition Labour Party calling for an investigation into whether terrorism laws had been misused. Glenn Greenwald is a Guardian journalist based in Brazil. He got hold of all the material provided by former National Security Agency contractor Snowden and reported it from Hong Kong. The revelations had the US government and its close allies, including Britain squirming at the allegations. It was revealed that the US, in collaboration with other Western governments, was closely monitoring the mobile and Internet data of citizens. This created a furore across the world and sparked off a heated debate between security and privacy. The Obama administration had been caught completely off-guard and the White House initially stuttered for a response, of course later regaining its composure. When Snowden reached the transit area of a Moscow airport after coming out with the revelations in Hong Kong, Washington was ready to make it hard for him. Snowden found his US passport revoked and the coming days were a cat-and-mouse game with media persons at the airport. As the international debate on individual privacy and security escalated, the Snowden drama became full of suspense. Finally, the former CIA analyst got an asylum in Russia.
And now the questioning of Miranda in London is again going to heat up the debate on how far the state can go in its pursuit of securing its interests and that of its citizens. What did London want from the partner of Greenwald? Miranda is not even a full fledged journalist and was it right to question him under an anti-terrorism law?
A furious Greenwald said yesterday that he would now publish more leaked documents and would focus on Britain. Asked what the outcome of his partner’s grilling would be, Greenwald said that Britain would come to regret it.
Britain’s anti-terrorist legislation watchdog has taken a grim view of the incident. It called on the Home Office and London Metropolitan police to explain why anti-terror.
Though the White House has denied asking London to question Miranda, Britain now is in hot water over the incident. The treatment of Miranda by the British security agencies is an oppressive act and is not expected of a liberal Western democracy like Britain•