MP seeks airport terror row answers
Senior MP Keith Vaz is to write to the Metropolitan Police to seek clarification on why the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald was held and questioned by officers while travelling through Heathrow.
The chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee said the action on Sunday, when David Miranda changed planes on a journey from Berlin to his home in Rio de Janeiro, appeared to be a new use of terror laws.
Labour MP Mr Vaz acknowledged the police and security services should stop and speak to people if they have proper suspicions - and said this could be the case in this incident.
Mr Miranda, who lives with reporter Glenn Greenwald - the journalist who interviewed American whistleblower Edward Snowden, was stopped at 8.30am returning from a trip to Berlin. Mr Miranda was questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allowing officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals, the Guardian reported.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Vaz said: "What needs to happen pretty rapidly is we need to establish the full facts. Now you have a complaint from Mr Greenwald and the Brazilian government - they indeed have said they are concerned at the use of terrorism legislation for something that does not appear to relate to terrorism - so it needs to be clarified, and clarified quickly.
"What is extraordinary is they knew he was the partner (of Mr Greenwald) and therefore it is clear people who are directly involved are being sought but also the partners of those involved.
"Bearing in mind it is a new use of terrorism legislation to detain someone in these circumstances... I'm certainly interested in knowing so I will write to the police to ask for the justification of the use of terrorism legislation - they may have a perfectly reasonable explanation. But if we are going to use the act in this way... then at least we need to know so everyone is prepared."
Mr Miranda was held for nine hours - the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual - before being released without charge. But the newspaper reported his electronic possessions, including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles, were confiscated.
While in Berlin, Mr Miranda visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has also been working on the Snowden files with Mr Greenwald and the Guardian.
Mr Greenwald said: "This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news-gathering process. To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA (US National Security Agency) and GCHQ. The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere. But the last thing it will do is intimidate or deter us in any way from doing our job as journalists. Quite the contrary: it will only embolden us more to continue to report aggressively."