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UK rules detaining partner of Snowden leaks reporter was lawful

David Miranda, partner of Glenn Greenwald (not seen), American journalist who first published the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, looks on as Greenwald testifies in front of the Brazilian Federal Senate's Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, established to investigate allegations of spying by United States on Brazil, in Brasilia October 9, 2013. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that the detention of the partner of a journalist who helped bring leaks from former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden to world attention was lawful.

British police detained David Miranda at Heathrow Airport in August 2013 when he landed in London en route from Berlin to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and seized material including electronic media containing 58,000 documents.

Miranda, the partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald, had argued that such detentions would have “an inevitable chilling effect on journalistic expression”, but the British court said his detention did not break the law.

“Mr Miranda’s appeal against the use of the power in his case is dismissed,” the court said in a summary of its decision.

“The court rejects Mr Miranda’s argument that the use of the stop power against him was an unjustified and disproportionate interference.”

Miranda had said the police had acted unlawfully and breached his right to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the court did say that the clause of the Terrorism Act under which Miranda was detained was incompatible with the convention, which protects freedom of speech in relation to journalistic materials.

“It is not subject to adequate safeguards against its arbitrary exercise and I would, therefore, allow the appeal in relation to that issue,” judges wrote, suggesting the British parliament should consider the matter.

Reporting By Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison