The partner of a Guardian journalist who wrote a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency (NSA) was detained for nine hours under the Terrorism Act and had his possessions confiscated, it has been reported.
David Miranda was passing through London's Heathrow Airport today on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.
Miranda, who lives with the reporter Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who interviewed American whistleblower Edward Snowden, was stopped at 8.30am returning from a trip to Berlin.
The Guardian reported that Miranda was questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allowing officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.
The 28-year-old was held for nine hours – the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual – before being released without charge.
But the newspaper reported his electronic possessions including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles were confiscated.
While in Berlin, Miranda visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has also been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and the Guardian.
"This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process," said Greenwald.
"To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ.
"The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere.
"But the last thing it will do is intimidate or deter us in any way from doing our job as journalists.
"Quite the contrary: it will only embolden us more to continue to report aggressively."
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has called for an investigation into anti-terror laws, saying the Government must find out if they are being abuseed.
"Any suggestion that terror powers are being misused must be investigated and clarified urgently," she said. "The public support for these powers must not be endangered by a perception of misuse."
The Guardian said that according to official figures, more than 97 per cent of examinations under schedule 7 last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained is kept for more than six hours.
Since 5 June, Greenwald has written a series of stories revealing the NSA's electronic surveillance programmes.
The broadsheet also published stories about blanket electronic surveillance by Britain's GCHQ, also based on documents from Snowden.
A Guardian spokesperson said: "We were dismayed that the partner of a Guardian journalist who has been writing about the security services was detained for nearly nine hours while passing through Heathrow airport.
"We are urgently seeking clarification from the British authorities."
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "At 08:05 on Sunday 18 August 2013 a 28-year-old man was detained at Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
"He was not arrested.
"He was subsequently released at 17:00."