British security forces acted lawfully when they arrested a Guardian newspaper journalist’s partner at London’s Heathrow airport and held him for nine hours, a U.K. court ruled.
David Miranda was carrying 58,000 classified documents obtained by the former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden when he was detained on Aug. 18. The U.K. government said at a court hearing in November that Miranda posed a threat to national security, and compared the publication of top-secret material to terrorism.
Miranda’s partner, Glenn Greenwald, reported for the Guardian on Edward Snowden’s allegations about mass e-mail surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency. The U.S. wants to press charges against Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong then Russia, even as two Norwegian lawmakers nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The arrest of Miranda “was a proportionate measure in the circumstances,” Judge John Laws said in a written decision. “Its objective was not only legitimate, but very pressing.”
Gwendolen Morgan, a lawyer for Miranda, said he would appeal the ruling, which “raises critically important legal issues especially for those involved in journalism.”
“Journalism is currently at risk of being conflated with terrorism,” Morgan said in a statement. “Our client has no option but to appeal.”
U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May said today’s ruling supports the action taken by police.
“If the police believe any individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would aid terrorism, then they should act,” May said in a statement.
Matthew Ryder, Miranda’s lawyer, told London judges in November the Snowden leaks started an international debate that wouldn’t otherwise have happened. Miranda sought a judge-led review of his arrest.
The case is the Queen on the application of Miranda v Secretary of State Home Office, case no. 13-11732, High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division.