Snowden documentary filmmaker sues US over years of harassment

Oscar-winning film director Laura Poitras is suing the US government to find out why she has been searched, questioned and subjected to enhanced security screenings over the past six years, being stopped over 90 times during the course of her travels.

I am filing this lawsuit because the government uses the US
border to bypass the rule of law,”
said Poitras in a
statement. “This simply should not be
tolerated in a democracy.”

Poitras is a professional journalist and Academy Award-winning
documentary filmmaker. Her work has also received a Pulitzer
Prize and a MacArthur “genius” grant. Poitras’s documentary about
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden,
Citizenfour, won her an Oscar earlier this year.

In her federal complaint, Poitras, an American citizen, said she
was searched and questioned every time she entered the US between
2006 and 2012, on more than 40 occasions. She was also subjected
to secondary security screening on more than 50 occasions while
leaving the US, outside the US during the course of international
travel, and on domestic flights in the US.

Security agents gave Poitras different reasons for why she was
being stopped. They told her she had a criminal record even
though she has never been arrested. Another time she was told her
name appeared in a national security threat database, and on
another occasion that she was on the government’s no fly list,
according to the complaint filed in a US District Court in
Washington, DC on Monday.

She was often detained for hours during these secondary security
screenings, and has had a laptop, camera, mobile phone and
reporter notebooks seized and their contents copied. She was once
allegedly threatened with being handcuffed for taking notes
during her detention, as border agents said her pen could be used
as a weapon. The searches were conducted without a warrant, often
without explanation, and no charges were ever brought against

I am also filing this suit in support of the countless other
less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of
Kafkaesque harassment at the borders,”
said Poitras. “We
have a right to know how this system works and why we are

For the past decade, Poitras has been “documenting
post-September 11 America”
with films like
Citizenfour. Other documentaries featured the work of
dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, journalist Jacob Appelbaum,
and NSA whistleblower William Binney. She has also made
documentaries about the military commissions for Guantanamo Bay
prison and the US’ military occupation of Iraq.

A year ago, Poitras filed a freedom of information request (FOIA)
for records naming or relating to her, including case files, but
agencies either said they had no records or didn’t respond to her
request at all. The FBI, however, did respond in May, saying they
had six pages relevant to the request but wouldn’t release the
records because of grand jury secrecy rules.

We are suing the government to force it to disclose any
records that would show why security officials targeted Poitras
for six years,”
said Jamie Lee Williams, an Electronic
Frontier Foundation attorney who is representing Poitras in the

By spurning Poitras’ FOIA requests, the government leaves
the impression that her detentions were a form of retaliation and
harassment of a journalist whose work has focused on US police in
the post-9/11 world.

The complaint was filed against the Department of Homeland
Security, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the
Director of National Intelligence.

Via RT. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.