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Edward Snowden's Lawyer Claims Harassment From Heathrow Border Agent 261

Posted by samzenpus
from the papers-please dept.
concertina226 writes "Jesselyn Radack, a human rights lawyer representing Edward Snowden, has claimed that she was detained and questioned in a 'very hostile' manner on Saturday by London Heathrow Airport's Customs staff. Radack freely disclosed to the border agent that she was going to see members of the Sam Adams Associates group, and when he realized that the meeting would be happening at the Ecuadorian Embassy, he went on to ask her if Julian Assange would be in attendance and to ask her about why she had traveled to Russia twice in three months."
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Edward Snowden's Lawyer Claims Harassment From Heathrow Border Agent

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  • Realpolitik (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:29PM (#46268207) Homepage Journal

    Use whatever petty powers might end up being called constitutional in a court of law, even if it's clearly against the spirit, because, hey, how else are you going to exert your authority over someone who's generally considered to have done a good thing?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by erroneus (253617)

      I would like to direct you here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

      1. We're talking about England.
      2. They don't really have a Constitution in a single document form as it is known in other countries.
      3. It's not a dead parrot.

      • 2. They don't really have a Constitution in a single document form as it is known in other countries.

        So what, if a bill is in three parts in another country, it's suddenly less respectable or something? UK signed the ECHR, therefore, they're responsible for upholding its articles.

        • Re:Realpolitik (Score:4, Interesting)

          by erroneus (253617) on Monday February 17, 2014 @02:37PM (#46268999) Homepage

          Oh, they signed something. Well then, that's different. I can't speak too much for England, but I can say the US picked up a lot of bad habits from England... and 1940s Germany too. So if England is anything like the US, then the constitution and local policies and practices trump international agreements. Additionally, "terrorism" defense trumps any and all aspects related to human rights, due process or any of that stuff.

          The only thing surprising to me is that a border agent cares enough to harass anyone. But then again, we're talking about border agents, not TSA.

          • Re:Realpolitik (Score:4, Informative)

            by 2sheds (78194) on Monday February 17, 2014 @02:49PM (#46269113) Journal
            The ECHR to which the parent refers is not simply an international treaty obligation. The articles and protocols it creates are explicitly enshrined in British law via the 1998 Human Rights Act, an instrument which while hated by our far right parties is IMHO one of the shining achievements of recent times (though not without flaws). The draconian environment you'll undoubtedly find at UK border control is quite a different issue, but it's one that you'll find familiar the world over.
          • by Aighearach (97333)

            They rarely actually use the terrorism defense in specific cases. They use it to defend the laws that permit excessive discretion, and then in the individual cases, they claim they have to exercise this discretion and that they can't play favorites and citizens caught up in their policies just need to cooperate and defer to the discretion of the overworked security agents protecting[sic] them.

            So you get a bait-and-switch at both ends of the problem.

      • Re:Realpolitik (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Monday February 17, 2014 @05:34PM (#46270579)
        Please don't hold up your constitution as the great example of how rights must be implemented.

        I would go into a diatribe about it but George Carlin said it well enough:
        ref: http://mindofv.blogspot.co.nz/2008/04/excerpt-from-george-carlin-on-rights.html

        "Now, if you think you do have rights, I have one last assignment for ya. Next time you're at the computer get on the Internet, go to Wikipedia. When you get to Wikipedia, in the search field for Wikipedia, i want to type in, "Japanese-Americans 1942" and you'll find out all about your precious fucking rights. Alright. You know about it.

        In 1942 there were 110,000 Japanese-American citizens, in good standing, law abiding people, who were thrown into internment camps simply because their parents were born in the wrong country. That's all they did wrong. They had no right to a lawyer, no right to a fair trial, no right to a jury of their peers, no right to due process of any kind. The only right they had was...right this way! Into the internment camps.

        Just when these American citizens needed their rights the most...their government took them away. and rights aren't rights if someone can take em away. They're privileges. That's all we've ever had in this country is a bill of TEMPORARY privileges; and if you read the news, even badly, you know the list get's shorter, and shorter, and shorter.

        Yeup, sooner or later the people in this country are going to realize the government doesn't give a fuck about them. the government doesn't care about you, or your children, or your rights, or your welfare or your safety. it simply doesn't give a fuck about you. It's interested in it's own power. That's the only thing...keeping it, and expanding wherever possible.

        Personally when it comes to rights, I think one of two things is true: either we have unlimited rights, or we have no rights at all."
  • Passenger treated like dirt by airport staff. News at 11!

    • Passenger treated like dirt by airport staff. News at 11!

      It's news because she was being treated like dirt due to her association with a particular client. Dur.

  • by joe545 (871599) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:41PM (#46268345)

    Foreign citizen turns up at the border and mentions that she will visit a fugitive from the law and is surprised when that results in an border interrogation?

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      fugitive from whose laws? she is lawyer of someone who hasn't gone to trial

      • Re:not surprising (Score:4, Informative)

        by joe545 (871599) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:55PM (#46268533)

        RTFS she will visit Assange who is skipped bail.

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          he skipped bail in Los Angeles USA, which last I checked hasn't joined the British Empire

          • by timeOday (582209)

            USA, which last I checked hasn't joined the British Empire

            More like vice-versa.

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            I haven't found any references to skipping bail in LA. What did he do there? He skipped bail in England, where he was being held awaiting extradition when he broke bail and fled to Ecuador.
      • Re:not surprising (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @02:10PM (#46268727)

        He's a fugitive from the UK's laws. Which he has undoubtedly broken.

        He was arrested by the UK police, which they were allowed to do because a European Arrest Warrant was issued.

        In the UK, we don't like to lock up people who haven't been convicted of a crime, so after a few days he was released on bail. The UK laws say that if you're on bail then the court can set reasonable conditions to stop you running away. You have to stick to those conditions, or you can be punished under UK law. His bail conditions were to check in with the police daily, and report to the police at a specified date.

        He had a chance to have legal counsel and to fight the European Arrest Warrant in court. And he did. First at the Magistrate's Court, and then he appealed to the High Court and then the Supreme Court. He lost all in 3 courts. He then had the option of appealing to the European Court of Human Rights and he decided not to.

        When it became obvious he'd lost, he went and hid in the embassy. That was a breach of his bail conditions.

    • and is surprised when that results in an border interrogation?

      Nowhere in TFA did it state that she was surprised. I fully expect that at least half the point of mentioning it was to see how she'd be treated.

    • by Tom (822)

      Lawyers visiting people in trouble with the law is basically them doing their job, you know?

    • It's not even that, as others have mentioned, Heathrow airport just has this style of interrogation to enter the country.

      Having read the article, nothing happened to her that didn't happen to me when I visited England. They just ask deep, 'piercing' questions, I suppose to curb the tide of illegal immigrants trying to sneak in from the US. Probably to steal their free healthcare or something?
  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:42PM (#46268367) Journal

    I'm British.

    The border staff are a national embarrassment, and are wildly, wildly incompetent.

    I think they'd happily wave through a man going by the name of "Osama Bin Laden" (OK, he's dead who do we use now for the purpose hyperbole?) carrying a radioactive suitcase and declaring "Allah Akbar" and then hassle some poor American on a work visa for an hour or three.

    Actually in my limited experience, the border guards seem to give Americans a really hard time if they've got work visas.

    I've been stopped at the border and hassled by a dim border gard. He was clearly trying to catch me in a lie and asked a question about somewhere I was living. He didn't like my (correct) answer and insisted I must be wrong, repeatedly. What the hell are you supposed to say to an obnoxious border guard who won't accept the legal, legitimate truth as an answer?

    • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:47PM (#46268425)

      Actually in my limited experience, the border guards seem to give Americans a really hard time if they've got work visas.

      Here's the thing: British voters don't like the mass immigration from the EU over the last couple of decades. So, every once in a while, the British government set out to win votes by 'cracking down on immigration'. But the EU says they're not allowed to restrict immigration from the EU, so they, instead, crack down on the skilled workers coming into the country from outside the EU on work permits... which are the kind of immigrants most British voters are quite happy to see coming to their country.

      It's not just the border guards that are incompetent, it's the entire British government. As the current floods so glaringly demonstrate ('hey, lets flood thousands of houses to SAVE THE BURDS!').

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      I'm British.

      I weekly travel between countries due to my current consultancy work. In my limited experience, the border guards really aren't there waiting for you in arrivals for European or common-wealth countries.

      I've been stopped at the border and hassled by a dim border gard. He was clearly trying to catch me in a lie and asked a question about somewhere I was living. He didn't like my (correct) answer and insisted I must be wrong, repeatedly.

      I've never had personal details questioned by UK border contr

      • Clearly one of you is English, and the other Scottish/Welsh.

      • I weekly travel between countries due to my current consultancy work. In my limited experience, the border guards really aren't there waiting for you in arrivals for European or common-wealth countries.

        It was the eurotunnel. Kind of by definiton they're there waiting for arrivals from a European country (France).

        I've never had personal details questioned by UK border control.

        He wasn't questioning my details.

        Border guards often have a little chat. Normally they see nothing suspicious and you go on thinking w

      • by jittles (1613415) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:26PM (#46269479)

        I'm British.

        I weekly travel between countries due to my current consultancy work. In my limited experience, the border guards really aren't there waiting for you in arrivals for European or common-wealth countries.

        I've been stopped at the border and hassled by a dim border gard. He was clearly trying to catch me in a lie and asked a question about somewhere I was living. He didn't like my (correct) answer and insisted I must be wrong, repeatedly.

        I've never had personal details questioned by UK border control.

        What the hell are you supposed to say to an obnoxious border guard who won't accept the legal, legitimate truth as an answer?

        I wouldn't know, I have yet to encounter it.

        Can't tell you how it is from a EU resident perspective, but I definitely get asked about where I am coming from, going to, and sometimes where I am staying when going to the EU from the US and returning to the US from the EU. The US people don't always ask many questions, but sometimes they ask me more as a citizen than the EU guards ask. I probably was hassled the least coming from a certain South American country shortly after 9/11, which is surprising.

    • by jxander (2605655)

      What the hell are you supposed to say to an obnoxious border guard who won't accept the legal, legitimate truth as an answer?

      I'm really not sure about Britanland, but here in the US, the proper response would be "Am I under arrest? And if I'm not under arrest, for what reason am I being detained?" The more you know, the better you can respond to charges or accusations.

      Or, there's the ever popular "Can I speak with your manager/supervisor?"

      • What the hell are you supposed to say to an obnoxious border guard who won't accept the legal, legitimate truth as an answer?

        I'm really not sure about Britanland, but here in the US, the proper response would be "Am I under arrest? And if I'm not under arrest, for what reason am I being detained?" The more you know, the better you can respond to charges or accusations.

        Or, there's the ever popular "Can I speak with your manager/supervisor?"

        Also: "I refuse to answer any questions without my attorney present."

        • by lgw (121541)

          Do you have a right to an attorney in a constitution-free zone? Do you have any rights at all?

          • Do you have a right to an attorney in a constitution-free zone? Do you have any rights at all?

            You know, the only reason "constutition-free zones" exist is because the people living there allow them.

            So, to answer your question, I'd say "yes, so long as the other citizens around you are intelligent and brave enough to know and stand up for your/their own rights."

            So... no.

      • by radish (98371)

        Believe me, the US CBP would not take kindly to that. Remember, different laws apply at the border (see: searching laptops) and they don't have to detain you, they can just throw you back on a plane to wherever you came from. It's generally wise to be pleasant and courteous if you don't what them to really ruin your day.

    • by jittles (1613415)

      I'm British.

      The border staff are a national embarrassment, and are wildly, wildly incompetent.

      I think they'd happily wave through a man going by the name of "Osama Bin Laden" (OK, he's dead who do we use now for the purpose hyperbole?) carrying a radioactive suitcase and declaring "Allah Akbar" and then hassle some poor American on a work visa for an hour or three.

      Actually in my limited experience, the border guards seem to give Americans a really hard time if they've got work visas.

      I've been stopped at the border and hassled by a dim border gard. He was clearly trying to catch me in a lie and asked a question about somewhere I was living. He didn't like my (correct) answer and insisted I must be wrong, repeatedly. What the hell are you supposed to say to an obnoxious border guard who won't accept the legal, legitimate truth as an answer?

      Gah. The last time I went through LHR was with my aging parents. My mom is diabetic and brought a nutritional supplement with her (Glucerna) to help keep her blood sugar stable on a long flight. We had a layover in LHR and were switching planes. The LHR security people were such dicks to her. They said that there was "no medicinal value" to her dietary supplement and held her at security for over 30 minutes. I was so pissed. And the previous time I went through LHR a baggage handler stole my USED gil

    • He didn't like my (correct) answer and insisted I must be wrong, repeatedly.

      That's part of their training. They try to catch people who are lying by asking the same question multiple times and challenging responses to see if the interviewee breaks down. It's most entertaining when you get a noob who stumbles while struggling to come up with what trick question to ask next. Just be polite and give truthful responses with minimal explanation unless prompted.

    • I'm British.

      The border staff are a national embarrassment, and are wildly, wildly incompetent.

      Welcome to the rest of the world. I suspect this is true everywhere.

  • by MRe_nl (306212)

    Question:"I would like to ask you some questions".
    Answer:"Feel free to ask me anything you like".
    Question one: "....".
    Answer: "You can speak to my lawyer about that".
    Question two:".....".
    Answer:"You can speak to my lawyer about that".
    Statement: "We can do this the easy way or the hard way, Mr. E/ Mrs.X".
    Answer: "Yes".

    Goto 10.

    • You know that doesn't work when you're at the border, right?

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Sure it does. They just detain you until your lawyer shows up and answers. And if he doesn't show, they ask you again before either arresting you for some crime related to not answering or refuse your entry.

        Border agents can be bigger dicks than cops dream about being.

        • before either arresting you for some crime related to not answering or refuse your entry.

          *Searching for sarcasm... appears clean*.
          So... In what way is that "working"? Ending up in prison or on a plane back home?

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:47PM (#46268433)

    Every time I have been through Customs and Immigration in the UK I have witnessed (or been subjected to) the agents there acting in a very demeaning manner towards travelers. To me it is SOP for the UK, to the point that I think the equivalent people in the US actually seem nicer.

    So while she may have been targeted because of who she is and who she is representing, the style of the questioning is not surprising.

    • by iserlohn (49556)

      The UK border force demeaning? They're angels compared to the ones in the US!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm British and travel to the USA often, they are not any better. I've been treated worse trying to enter my own country than trying to enter the states.

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Every time I have been through Customs and Immigration in the UK I have witnessed (or been subjected to) the agents there acting in a very demeaning manner towards travelers. To me it is SOP for the UK, to the point that I think the equivalent people in the US actually seem nicer.

      I don't know... I've been to the U.S. Had to fill in a form on the flight saying I am not a terrorist, spy etc. Then get finger printed, picture taken and asked if I am there for business or pleasure, then asked trick questions.

      Com

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When I was a kid, the TV output from America and the UK made every effort to show us why the regimes of the Nazis and the Soviets were 'bad'. One might think the fact that both regimes had been directly responsible for the murder of tens of millions of Humans would have made such concerns redundant, but Human psychology proves that people respond far better to depictions of individual acts of petty cruelty over scenes of unthinkable slaughter.

    My point is that such dramas had many common themes. Mistreatment

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      The prevalent news source in the UK for most citizens is the Daily Mail (which likely wouldn't discuss these issues, because it's nowhere sensationalist enough), not the BBC. The BBC does have even close to as much of an influence. A lot of people don't even give a crap about the news the BBC reports.

  • by AutodidactLabrat (3506801) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:55PM (#46268547)
    expect the teeth and claws. Snowden and Assange have tweaked the powerful, dragging their criminal deeds into the light. NO ONE will be free to act as their agents, servants or mouthpieces without being harmed in every possible way. Look at the collusion between Visa and the U.S. Government attempting to choke off Wikileaks. If that is not evidence of common conspiracy, Visa acting to reduce its income in order to satisfy an agenda of government, what is? Next time you think "Government vs. Business", remember this IS Business-government (fascism).
  • by ciurana (2603) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:57PM (#46268573) Homepage Journal

    Greetings.

    After having been harassed a few times during business trips to London after having worked for two London-based companies, I decided to never fly into London again if I can help it. Instead, I fly into Paris from either Moscow or the US, have a nice lunch somewhere near Gare du Nord, then take the Eurostar into London (about a 2-hour ride). The UK immigration officials at the rail station are way nicer and more polite, the process is much faster, and in general the suckage is much lower.

    Cheers!

    pr3d

  • Non-story (Score:2, Interesting)

    by murdocj (543661)

    Wow... customs agent questions traveler. I'm sorry, but, guess what, THAT'S THEIR JOB. I've had some interesting discussions with officials at airports.

    Move along, nothing to see here.

  • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:31PM (#46269519)

    "Radack claims that the officer told her that she was questioned because she is on an "inhibited persons list", a term coined by the US Department of Homeland Security. It means the US Transportation Security Administration has officially instructed an airport operator or aircraft operator not to provide the individual with access to an area or with a boarding pass to the destination."

    Be an ethics lawyer: get on the no fly list?

Those who do things in a noble spirit of self-sacrifice are to be avoided at all costs. -- N. Alexander.

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