US officials say they did not ask the British government to detain the partner of the journalist who first reported US spying programs, leaked by American whistleblower Edward Snowden, at London’s Heathrow Airport. But they admitted that British officials gave them a “heads up” before the detention.
"This was a decision that they made on their own, and not at the request of the United States," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.
"This is something that they did independent of our direction," he added.
Brazilian David Miranda, the partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald, was detained on Sunday at Heathrow Airport, where he was in transit on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro.
Earnest did not provide information about how far in advance British officials notified Washington that Miranda would be detained, according to Reuters.
Miranda was questioned for nine hours under provisions of British anti-terrorism law but was later released without charge. His cell phone, laptops and memory sticks were confiscated, Greenwald was quoted as saying in British newspaper The Guardian.
"This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process," he said. "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 more aggressively."
Greenwald, who writes for The Guardian, reported secret US National Security Agency’s surveillance programs revealed by Snowden, a former NSA contractor, in June.
Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, faces “espionage” and “theft of government property” charges in the United States.