U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter stopped while entering the U.S., reporting notes photocopied

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 10, 2017

Border Stop

Target Nationality
US Citizenship Status of Target
U.S. citizen
Denied Entry?
Stopped Previously?
Asked for device access?
Asked intrusive questions about work?
Equipment Seized
Search Warrant Obtained
July 10, 2017

A Louisiana-based reporter—who asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisal—was flagged for secondary screening at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport while traveling from Bogota, Colombia, on July 10, 2017.

The reporter told the Committee to Protect Journalists that he had been in Colombia on vacation. He made it through primary screening but was flagged for secondary screening.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers directed the reporter to empty his pockets and then searched everything in his bag and wallet. He told CPJ that the officers did not search his electronic devices, which he said would have been a red line.

The reporter said the officers came across an old note in his wallet that he had written to remind himself to file a Freedom of Information Act request for documents in connection with an incident in Louisiana. The reporter told CPJ that the CBP officers assumed the note was referring to the shooting of Louisiana representative Steve Scalise and others at a baseball practice in Virginia the month before. Though he told the officers that wasn’t the case, they took the notes out of the room and photocopied them. When they returned, the reporter said the officers questioned him about his work and the notes for approximately an hour before he was released.

The reporter told CPJ that he filed a FOIA request for his records within a few days of the incident because “I knew something wasn’t right.” He received the documents on Sept. 12, which he said showed that he had been specifically flagged for an “enforcement referral” screening.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].