A senior lecturer at Indiana University was confronted by Department of Homeland Security officials after the federal agency obtained copies of her emails and began quizzing her about the details of her sex life.
Image: DHS Logo (Wiki Commons).
The ACLU is filing a lawsuit on behalf of Christine Von Der Haar after she was detained by Customs and Border Patrol at at Indianapolis International Airport during an incident in 2012.
The sociology professor traveled to the airport merely to help her friend pick up some computer parts that had been shipped separately. Greek national Dimitris Papatheodoropoulos had already arrived in the country under a valid business visa which allowed him to enter and leave the United States for a period of 10 years.
Both Von Der Haar and Papatheodoropoulos were detained by DHS officers and bombarded with questions about their private lives, including whether they had shared sexual relations, with feds alleging that the two secretly conspired so that Papatheodoropoulos could stay in the country illegally.
“Given that Mr. Papatheodoropoulos had retained his hard drive that contained the emails, the only way that the Customs and Border Protection Agents could have reviewed the emails is for someone to have surreptitiously monitored the communications between Dr. Von Der Haar and Mr. Papatheodoropoulos and reported those communications to the agents questioning her,” states the lawsuit. “Defendant Lieba admitted that employees of the United States had read email communications between Dr. Von Der Haar and Mr. Papatheodoropoulos.”
Customs and Border Protection seized Papatheodoropoulos’ passport and commenced proceedings to remove him from the country, claiming he had misrepresented his intentions. After Papatheodoropoulos consulted with lawyers and the Greek Consulate in Chicago, the proceedings were halted and his passport was returned. Papatheodoropoulos left the country of his own volition in August 2012.
“CBP officers grossly exceeded their jurisdiction. Dr. Von Der Haar’s US citizenship was never questioned; she wasn’t trying to enter, leave, or ship and goods in or out of the country; and she was never accused of any crime. In general, immigration (as distinct from customs) offenses are handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol, not CBP. We’re curious what basis CBP will claim for its officers’ authority to detain and interrogate Dr. Von Der Haar or obtain her email,” asks Papers Please.
Either the DHS is obtaining Americans’ emails via their own undeclared (and illegal) snoop program, or they are being aided by the National Security Agency or some other government entity.
This case is not the only example of the DHS harassing travelers over personal information that the feds have no business or legal justification to know.
Last year we reported on the case of a Canadian woman was turned away by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent as a result of being hospitalized for a mental illness a year previously.
50-year-old Ellen Richardson was barred from traveling to New York City after she was told that “system checks” had found she “had a medical episode in June 2012” and that because of this “mental illness episode” she would be required to undergo medical evaluation by DHS-approved doctors before being accepted.
Read the full Von Der Haar lawsuit below.