Glenn Greenwald guides partner David Miranda through Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, following Miranda's return after being detained by British authorities. (Source: Reuters)
As the story surrounding the detention of American journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda continues to blow up, the American government seems to be doing as much as it can to distance itself from the fury of the press and people who actually care about civil rights. In a press briefing this morning, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted that the government was given a "heads-up" warning by British officials prior to Miranda's nine-hour long detention. However he denies that the White House requested it, though he refused to deny or confirm any information passed along from the electronics officials seized.
Earnest spoke with the press room this morning on a variety of issues. When the subject of David Miranda, a Brazilian national who is in a relationship with Greenwald and assists him on stories occasionally, came up, Earnest acknowledged that the White House received advance notice of Miranda's arrival at London Heathrow Airport, where he was stopping over on a trip from Berlin to his home in Rio de Janeiro. However, Earnest emphasized that the detention was entirely a British decision, saying "This is something that we had an indication that was likely to occur but it is not something we request. It was something that was done specifically by the British law enforcement officials."
The detention of David Miranda stems partly from what some suspect was a meeting with Laura Poitras in Berlin. Poitras is an American filmmaker who has been working with Greenwald, likely on his leaking NSA documents from intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. Upon arrival at Heathrow, Miranda was detained by British security officials, who detained him for the maximum nine hours as allowed by the nation's terrorism laws, and was denied a lawyer and being able to speak with Greenwald. Miranda's lengthy detainment, which has only happened three times out of the last 10,000 detainments since the law's enactment, did not result in any charges being faced against him, but with all his electronics being seized for investigation, including his laptop, cell phone, and video game consoles.
However, when pressed on the matter, Earnest denied that the White House had any involvement otherwise, though he refused to dismiss the possibility that Miranda's equipment, or information extracted from them, was passed over to federal authorities, claiming he was "no position to do that right now."
Earnest's denials come as watchdog groups and the Brazilian government, who received no advance warning of Miranda's detention from British authorities, condemned the detention. In response, Member of Parliament David Anderson is seeking to make changes to the terrorism laws to reduce the length of detainment to six hours through a police bill currently being reviewed in Parliament.