Amnesty International refers to him as a Guardian employee. At first, the Guardian said nothing about the details of his trip through Heathrow; late Sunday night their story included an update that they were actually funding his travel. And while the Guardian did not include this in its initial coverage, the New York Times reported that Miranda was actually visiting Laura Poitras to help her with her continued reporting on the NSA and other spying programs.
“Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden. The British authorities seized all of his electronic media — including video games, DVDs and data storage devices — and did not return them, Mr. Greenwald said.”
So basically: Miranda was being a document mule for Greenwald and Poitras, and the Guardian was paying for it…
Now, to be clear – that does not excuse nine hours of detention. Such a lengthy time in a holding cell is unquestionably abusive, and it is what makes the UK decision so stupid. While it’s certain a brief detention that included mirroring the hard drives of Miranda’s devices — a routine procedure in many countries that does not take very much time — would have generated a similar tone from Greenwald (“Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by,” which is almost laughably ignorant of the actual mafia and in the equivalence of a 9-hour detention to the mafia’s violence), much of the extra outcry almost certainly would not have occurred. Indeed, it could have been justifiable as the sort of proper due diligence people generally expect from their border officials when people openly dedicated to destroying parts of their government (like GCHQ) who also brag of carrying around the files to do so travel through.