“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law.”
Laura Poitras recently won the Academy Award for CITIZENFOUR, her documentary on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, but the director claims that she’s long been hassled by U.S. federal authorities for years, resulting in multiple unmerited airport detentions. Now she’s suing the government to find out exactly why.
Poitras, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed a Freedom Of Information Act [FOIA] complaint [PDF] in federal court against the Dept. of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, “seeking the disclosure and release of agency records improperly withheld” from the filmmaker by these agencies and affiliated sub-agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, and the FBI.
Poitras says that during the six-year period from 2006 to 2012, she was searched, questioned, and subjected to hours-long security screenings at U.S. and overseas airports on more than 50 occasions — every time she entered the country.
The lawsuit says the harassment began in the summer of 2006, when airline agents were compelled to call Homeland Security before issuing Poitras a boarding pass. Following that incident, her boarding passes were all marked “SSSS,” and she claims she was subjected to increased security.