Pressure is building on British authorities to explain the use of an antiterrorism law to detain the domestic partner of a journalist who published information about U.S. surveillance leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
David Miranda, the partner of Guardian newspaper reporter Glenn Greenwald, was held for questioning at London's Heathrow Airport for nearly nine hours Sunday, the maximum allowed under Schedule 7 of Britain's Terrorism Act.
The Brazilian government issued a statement saying the detention of Miranda, who is a Brazilian national, was "without justification" and calling on British authorities to ensure such an incident does not happen again.
Senior politicians, human rights activists and an independent reviewer in Britain have also expressed alarm about the incident, according to British news reports.
Widney Brown of the London-based rights group Amnesty International told the Guardian that Miranda's detention was "unlawful and inexcusable."
"There is simply no basis for believing that David Michael Miranda presents any threat whatsoever to the UK government," Brown was quoted as saying. "The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analyzing the data released by Edward Snowden."
Keith Vaz, chairman of the British Home Affairs parliamentary select committee, said he would ask the police to explain why terrorism legislation was used in a case that did not appear to be terrorism-related.
British authorities have so far declined to discuss the reasons for questioning Miranda.
Miranda was in transit in London on his way back to Brazil when he was stopped, Greenwald said. Miranda spent the previous week in Berlin, where he stayed with Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker who has also worked on the articles about NSA surveillance, Greenwald wrote in a column Sunday.
Greenwald said he met Miranda upon his arrival Monday at a Rio de Janeiro airport.