Reactions: UK forces the Guardian to destroy hard drives, detains partner of Snowden journalist

19 August 2013. Weekend events in the Edward Snowden story revolve around a reporter's Brazilian national partner being detained at London's Heathrow and government insistence that a news organization destroy documents.


  1. Guardian front page, Monday 19 August: Guardian journalist's partner held under UK Terrorism Act
    Guardian front page, Monday 19 August: Guardian journalist's partner held under UK Terrorism Act
  2. These government actions call into question broad anti-terrorism law, the surveillance state and prior restraint threats.
  3. How we got here

  4. In June, U.S. citizen Glenn Greenwald broke the Edward Snowden story about the National Security Agency (NSA) in the Guardian. The other journalist in the project, Laura Poitras, is an American filmmaker who is currently living in Germany. For years, Poitras was routinely detained at airports domestically and abroad at the request of the US government after her award-winning documentary My County, My Country (2006) about life in Iraq.
  5. Brazilian David Miranda had met with Poitras and was en route to the home in Brazil that he shares with Greenwald when he was detained at the London airport for nine hours. The Guardian had paid his airfare for the trip. UK officials questioned Miranda at the airport for nine hours under the auspices of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000. They confiscated all of his electronic devices: phone, computer, PlayStation, external drives.
  6. The Obama Administration said that it was aware that Miranda "would likely be stopped" but denied requesting the act. 
  7. The Guardian reported that "Downing Street declined to answer questions about the treatment of Miranda on the grounds that it was an operational matter." 
  8. However, Reuters reported that through this detention, the British government is showing (who, the United States?) that it is "serious about trying to shut down the leaks."
  9. Earlier this month, the Guardian reported that the U.S. helps fund Britain's "spy agency GCHQ" to the tune of at least $150 million over three a year period. The documents "make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment."
  10. Reminder: the documents that Snowden leaked were U.S. documents, although the content might implicate U.K. politicians. 
  11. Later Monday, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed that the UK government had "demanded the return or destruction" of documents related to the Snowden stories. Subsequently, "two GCHQ security experts [oversaw] the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement."