The White House said Monday it had no involvement in the nearly nine-hour detention of David Miranda, journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner, at Heathrow Airport on Sunday, though it did get a "heads up" that British authorities were stopping him.
"This is a decision made by the British government without the involvement and not at the request of the U.S. government," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday. "There was a heads up provided by the British government... This is something we had an indication was likely to occur, but it's not something we requested."
Miranda, 28, was held at the London airport under the Terrorism Act's Schedule 7 and was held for nearly as long as the British law allows for. He was stopped while traveling home to Brazil after meeting in Germany with Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker who worked with Greenwald on his stories regarding U.S. surveillance programs, based on information leaked by former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden.
Earnest declined to comment on whether the U.S. would be briefed on any information the British government may have obtained while communicating with Miranda, or from Miranda's cell phone, laptops and memory sticks, which Greenwald said were confiscated.
In an, Greenwald called this latest event "extremely disturbing."
"It's incredibly menacing for governments to not only target journalists who are publishing stories that they dislike, but the family members and spouses of journalists. It's designed to be bullying and intimidating," he said.
Some British lawmakers have called on police toMiranda was detained, while the Brazilian government has expressed "grave concern" over the incident.
In response to charges that the U.S. might be trying to intimidate journalists, Earnest said Monday that the White House has engaged in "rigorous debate" over "the application of national security rules."
"The president in the course of that debate has made clear his support for independent journalists, the role independent journalists have to play in a society like ours," he said. "He's always talked about the responsibility of the government to protect the right of independent journalists to do their job."