* Journalist Greenwald's partner to appeal court decision
* Judge says detention was legitimate, criticises Greenwald
* Greenwald accuses Britain of "waging war" on press
By Costas Pitas
LONDON, Feb 19 Britain's High Court has quashed
a legal challenge against the detention under anti-terrorism
laws of the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who
brought leaks from former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward
Snowden to world attention.
David Miranda had asked the court to rule on the legality of
his detention and nine-hour questioning under terrorism
legislation last August when he landed at London's Heathrow
Airport en route from Berlin to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
He had argued that such detentions would have "an inevitable
chilling effect on journalistic expression".
British authorities seized items from Miranda which they
said included electronic media containing 58,000 documents from
the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), Snowden's former
employer, and from its British counterpart, Government
Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
The High Court ruled on Wednesday that the detention of the
partner of the ex-Guardian newspaper journalist was lawful and
that anti-terrorism laws were correctly used.
"In my judgment the Schedule 7 (of the Terrorism Act) stop
was a proportionate measure in the circumstances," said Judge
"Its objective was not only legitimate but very pressing."
Schedule 7 allows for individuals to be stopped, detained
for up to nine hours and have their items confiscated as they
travel through ports and airports in order to determine whether
they are involved in planning terrorist acts.
Civil liberty activists argue that certain groups such as
Muslims are more likely to be stopped and Amnesty International
has criticised Schedule 7 for being an "extremely broad law"
that allows the abuse of individual rights due to its vagueness.
Miranda's lawyers said they had applied for permission to
appeal against Wednesday's decision and that the judgement
endangered journalism dealing with issues of national security.
"Journalism is currently at risk of being conflated with
terrorism," said lawyer Gwendolen Morgan.
"Therefore our client has no option but to appeal."
'BRITISH WAR ON PRESS FREEDOM'
The ruling also criticised Greenwald's evidence that
journalists share with government the responsibility to decide
what should not be published to protect national security.
"Journalists have no such constitutional responsibility,"
the ruling said.
"The journalist will have his own take or focus on what
serves the public interest, for which he is not answerable to
the public through parliament."
Revelations by Snowden set off an international furore when
he told newspapers last June that the NSA was mining the
personal data of users of Google , Facebook,
Skype and other U.S. companies under a secret programme
Further leaks from the former NSA contractor, who faces
espionage charges at home and has temporary asylum in Russia,
suggested the United States had monitored phone conversations of
some 35 world leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel.
The flood of accusations prompted U.S. President Barack
Obama to announce reforms in January to scale back the NSA
programme and to ban eavesdropping on the leaders of close
friends and allies of the United States.
In Britain, a government official told the High Court last
August Snowden's leaks had damaged British national security.
The official said the data given to journalists included
information that might expose the identities of British spies.
Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May welcomed
Wednesday's decision and said that powers in place were fair.
"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.
In an online article, Greenwald, an American who now lives
in Brazil, criticised the judgement and accused Britain of
fearing public debate and oppressing reporters.
"It should surprise nobody that the U.K. is not merely
included in, but is one of the leaders of, this group of nations
which regularly wages war on basic press freedoms," he said.