Scotland Yard defends 'legally sound' detention of Guardian journalist's partner

Scotland Yard has stood by its decision to detain the partner of a Guardian journalist for nine hours at Heathrow Airport on Sunday.

The Metropolitan Police said the use of anti-terror laws to detain David Miranda was “legally and procedurally sound” and denied reports that he was not given access to a lawyer, adding that it had not received any complaints over the incident.

Miranda, whose partner Glenn Greenwald published leaked information from American whistleblower Edward Snowden detailing US National Security Agency surveillance operations, was held under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Greenwald called the detention of Miranda a “profound attack on press freedoms and the news-gathering process”.

But the Met said in a statement: “The examination of a 28-year-old man under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Heathrow Airport on Sunday 18 August was subject to a detailed decision-making process.

"The procedure was reviewed throughout to ensure the examination was both necessary and proportionate.

"Our assessment is that the use of the power in this case was legally and procedurally sound.

"Contrary to some reports the man was offered legal representation while under examination and a solicitor attended. No complaint has been received by the Metropolitan Police Service at this time.”

The Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism, David Anderson QC, said the case was “unusual” and has asked for a briefing on the incident.

He told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One that of the 200 million who pass through UK  ports every year "60,000-70,000 are examined under this Schedule 7 stop and only 40 of those are actually kept for longer than six hours".

He said: "So you can see what an unusual case this was, if it’s correct that Mr Miranda was held right up to the nine-hour limit.”

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said it was difficult to avoid the conclusion that the move was an attempt to intimidate a journalist.

He said: "Journalism may be embarrassing and annoying for governments but it is not terrorism. It is difficult to know how in this instance the law was being used to prevent terrorism.

"On the face of it, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the detention of a journalist's partner is anything other than an attempt to intimidate a journalist and his news organisation that is simply informing the public of what is being done by authorities in their name.

"It is another example of a dangerous tendency that the initial reaction of authorities is to assume that journalists are bad when, in fact, they play an important part in any democracy."

Since 5 June ,  Greenwald has written a series of stories revealing the NSA's electronic surveillance programmes.

The Guardian also published stories about blanket electronic surveillance by Britain's GCHQ, based on documents from Snowden.

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