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Journalists entering U.S. feel pangs of Muslim ban

[USA], Feb. 2 (ANI): The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has raised concern that Customs and Border Protection officers should respect the rights of journalists to protect confidential information when subjecting international reporters to screening on their entry into the United States.

It comes as Ali Hamedani, a reporter for BBC World Service, told the CPJ that border agents had detained him at Chicago O’Hare Airport for over two hours and questioned him when he arrived on January 29 to interview a Persian singer.

He said the agents examined his phone ,computer and Twitter feed. Hamedani told the CPJ that when he traveled to the U.S. on the same Media I Visa in November last year, he did not have any issues at the border.

Hamedani said the experience brought back memories of being in Iran. He was arrested there in 2009 because he worked for the BBC, he said.

“Last time I was in Iran, I was arrested and the interrogator grabbed my phone and started reading my text messages,” he told the CPJ.

He said has not returned to Iran since. The detention of the British-Iranian journalist came two days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned entry from seven majority-Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – for 90 days. Separately, Mohammed Tawfeeq, an editor and producer at CNN, was subjected to secondary screening at Atlanta airport on January 29, according to reports.

Tawfeeq, an Iraqi who is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the president’s executive order was used to unlawfully detain him. Some international journalists have told CPJ they faced additional screening at the U.S. border since the passage of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. (ANI)