Customs' Hamfisted Attempts To Intimidate Wikileaks Volunteers
from the witch-hunts dept
Computer security expert (and US citizen) Jacob Appelbaum, who is well known for his work on Tor, had been having some issues lately concerning his involvement as a volunteer with Wikileaks. He was among those who had their info requested by the Feds via Twitter. And he’s been having issues traveling to and from the US lately. Last July, he was detained upon flying into the country and it looks like something similar has happened again, where he was detained, searched and questioned after flying into Seattle from a vacation in Icleand.
He was careful to travel with no computers or gadgets whatsoever, other than some USB keys with encrypted versions of the Bill of Rights. He noted that the initial customs agent, to whom he handed over the declaration form was friendly until she pulled up his account, and from there things went sour. He asked to speak to a lawyer, which was denied on the grounds that he wasn’t being arrested.
Apparently he was told initially that he was pulled aside as part of a “random” search, which leads Appelbaum to joke about the actual randomness — which was also shown to be false when one of the agents mentioned his pre-flight Twitter activity.. He also pointed out that those detaining him were disappointed that he wasn’t traveling with computers or mobile phones, and that Iceland had plenty of computers, such that he didn’t need to bring his own.
In the end, after about half an hour’s detention and search, they did let him go. Some might consider that to not be that big of a deal, but it clearly has something of a chilling effect. He notes that the mental stress of being in such a situation is not at all enjoyable. This is unfortunate. If he’s done something wrong, arrest him. If he has not, harassing him every time he crosses the border is just obnoxious.