David Cameron pushed for The Guardian to hand over Snowden material, report says
Glenn Greenwald says lawyers for his partner have filed a lawsuit over his detention
They are seeking a declaration that what the UK authorities did is illegal, Greenwald says
The UK government says it has a duty to protect national security
Lawyers acting for David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, said they will bring his case to the High Court in London on Thursday after he was detained at Heathrow Airport.
Greenwald, who works for The Guardian newspaper, has been at the forefront of high-profile reports exposing secrets in U.S. intelligence programs, based on leaks from former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Miranda, a Brazilian citizen, spent nearly nine hours in detention Sunday being questioned under a provision of Britain’s terrorism laws. He was stopped as he passed through London on his way from Berlin to his home in Brazil.
Authorities confiscated Miranda’s electronic equipment, including his mobile phone, laptop, memory sticks, smart watch, DVDs and games consoles, lawyer Gwendolen Morgan wrote in the court filing Wednesday.
The lawyers, hired by The Guardian to represent Miranda, are trying to recover his property and prevent the government from inspecting the items or sharing what data they may have already gleaned from them.
“What they’re essentially seeking right now is a declaration from the British court that what the British authorities did is illegal, because the only thing they’re allowed to detain and question people over is investigations relating to terrorism, and they had nothing to do with terrorism, they went well beyond the scope of the law,” Greenwald told CNN’s AC360 on Tuesday.
“And, secondly, to order them to return all the items they stole from David and to order that they are barred from using them in any way or sharing them with anybody else.”
Pressure on The Guardian?
Meanwhile, new claims have emerged that the pressure placed on The Guardian over its reporting on information leaked by Snowden came from the highest levels of government.
The British newspaper The Independent reported Wednesday that Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the country’s top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, “to contact the Guardian to spell out the serious consequences that could follow if it failed to hand over classified material received from Edward Snowden.”
Asked about the report by CNN, Cameron’s office did not deny it.
“We won’t go in to specific cases, but if highly sensitive information was being held insecurely, the government would have a responsibility to secure it,” a Downing Street press officer said. She declined to be named in line with policy.
The Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, said in an editorial published Monday that the paper had physically destroyed computer hard drives under the eyes of representatives of Britain’s General Communications Headquarters – the UK equivalent of the NSA.
The move followed several meetings with “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” and “shadowy Whitehall figures,” Rusbridger said. They demanded The Guardian hand over the Snowden material or destroy it, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the head of Cameron’s Liberal Democrat coalition partners, considered the request “reasonable,” his office said.