David Miranda, a Brazilian citizen and partner of lawyer-turned-reporter Glenn Greenwald, has retained two firms as he threatens legal action against the British government after being detained for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport this past weekend.

While not a reporter himself, Miranda has been assisting Greenwald, a former litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz who has been busy the past two months breaking major stories on national security and government surveillance for The Guardian. The British newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, wrote in a column this week about the pressure he’s received from U.K. authorities to destroy materials leaked to Greenwald by former CIA and National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Scotland Yard has defended as “ legally and procedurally sound” its decision to detain Miranda on Sunday as he prepared to board a flight to Rio de Janeiro. A laptop, phones, hard drives, and a camera were taken from Miranda, who reportedly met last week in Berlin with Laura Poitras, an American documentary filmmaker recently profiled in The New York Times for her role working with Greenwald and Snowden on stories about secret surveillance programs in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The U.S. government was informed in advance of the move to detain Miranda, who has hired British firms Matrix Chambers and Bindmans—the latter founded by noted human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman—to represent him in a potential legal action against the U.K.’s Home Office and London’s Metropolitan Police.
The Am Law Daily has learned that The Guardian’s Manchester-based parent company Guardian Media Group has also been relying on a robust team of outside lawyers in the U.S. and U.K. as part of its larger effort publishing stories on secret surveillance programs in both countries.
David Korzenik of Miller Korzenik Sommers, David Schulz of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, and Charles Stillman of Ballard Spahr Stillman & Friedman are handling matters in the U.S. for The Guardian, according to an email sent to The Am Law Daily by Gillian Phillips, who since 2009 has served as the newspaper’s director of editorial legal services. (Guardian Media’s commercial group legal director is Sarah Davis.)
Schulz and Stillman are handling NSA–related matters for Guardian Media, while Korzenik has long served as the company’s outside counsel on traditional newsroom legal issues. Schulz and Korzenik are well-versed in First Amendment law, a U.S. protection that Rusbridger noted in his column this week The Guardian could invoke by editing national security stories out of the newspaper’s New York office.
None of the three lawyers, all of whom are based in New York, were immediately available for comment about their work for Guardian Media. (Last month Stillman merged his New York litigation boutique Stillman & Friedman with Ballard Spahr, according to sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer.)
In the U.K., Phillips says Guardian Media is being advised by Gavin Millar of Doughty Street Chambers, a firm founded and headed by Geoffrey Robertson, another prominent British human rights and media lawyer who was profiled by The American Lawyer way back in 1988. Robertson once represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been a vocal backer of Snowden.
For his part, The Guardian’s Greenwald has called the detention of Miranda an attempt at intimidation, vowing to continue his intrepid reporting on surveillance and data-mining programs that the U.S. and U.K. governments would rather keep secret.
The Am Law Daily touched on Greenwald’s time in private practice back in June—after leaving Wachtell he went on to form his own New York litigation boutique—for a story about Snowden’s surveillance leaks and Covington & Burling’s work advising several technology companies in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act matters with the NSA.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank, recently published a report showing that U.S. technology companies stand to lose between $22 billion and $25 billion over the next three years as a result of revelations regarding the NSA’s secret spying programs.
Earlier this month two encrypted email providers—Lavabit and Silent Circle— shuttered their operations amid the federal government’s increased surveillance efforts. Ladar Levison, owner and operator of Texas-based Lavabit, said publicly that he could have been arrested for resisting surveillance orders. (Jesse Binnall, a founding partner of Fairfax, Virginia–based Bronley & Binnall, is representing Levison, who has posted a link for donations to his legal defense fund on Lavabit’s website.)
Citing Lavabit’s decision to shut down, legal news website Groklaw, which predominantly covers IP and technology, also announced Tuesday through founder Pamela Jones that it would cease publishing as a result of concerns about access to secure email free from government surveillance.
The Obama administration has sought to calm fears that the federal government is turning into an Orwellian nightmare by releasing documents this month by the Justice Department and NSA providing the legal rationale for their surveillance efforts. But amid the ongoing debate between freedom and security in the U.S., newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post have published stories about the NSA’s ability to search emails to and from U.S. shores, as well as the agency’s frequent overstepping of its authority on privacy rules.
As for Snowden, whose grant of asylum by Russia earlier this month has strained the country’s ties with the U.S., he publicly lashed out last week against his father Lon Snowden and his pro bono attorney Bruce Fein, claiming that both had misrepresented him in the media. In June, The Guardian‘s Rusbridger and U.S. editor-in-chief Janine Gibson spoke with PBS’s Charlie Rose about the NSA leaks by Snowden.