LONDON - Britain's deputy prime minister called for urgent checks to see if the arrest last weekend of a journalist's partner under anti-terrorism laws was legal, distancing himself from his coalition partners who defended the nine-hour detention.
Nick Clegg said on Saturday he was not consulted before the detention of David Miranda, the partner of American journalist Glenn Greenwald, who led coverage of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's leaks about US and British electronic spying.
The contrasting responses to Miranda's arrest from Britain's governing coalition partners come as battle lines are being drawn for a general election in 2015.
Clegg's Liberal Democrats have held fast to Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives in vital areas such as economic policy but they disagree over issues ranging from Britain's role in Europe and its nuclear deterrent.
Miranda, a Brazilian, was carrying documents held on computer between Greenwald and one of Snowden's contacts when British police detained him last Sunday, triggering a complaint from Brazil's government and criticism from British opposition politicians, rights lawyers and the press freedom watchdog.
Miranda was later released without charge minus his laptop, telephone, a computer hard drive and memory sticks.
On Thursday, the police said the documents were "highly sensitive" and, if disclosed, could put lives at risk.