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British begin inquiry in NSA case

LONDON — Britain has launched a criminal investigation into Edward Snowden’s leak of classified material to the Guardian newspaper and is sifting through papers it seized from the partner of one of the paper’s journalists, a government lawyer said Thursday.

The revelation by lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw came at London’s High Court, where lawyers for David Miranda — the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald — unsuccessfully sued to stop police from combing through digital data seized from him Sunday at Heathrow Airport.

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It was the British government’s first mention of a criminal inquiry linked to the seized material, which included a laptop, cellphone, DVDs, and memory sticks.

Greenwald has been at the center of the Guardian’s disclosures about the National Security Agency, which have exposed the US government’s secret domestic spy program. Miranda, a Brazilian student, was held nearly nine hours as he flew through the London airport after meeting in Germany with a journalist.

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