OUTRAGEOUS

Canadian Reporter Barred From U.S.

A Canadian photojournalist says he was barred entry to the U.S. for refusing to let border officials go through his phone. Ed Ou, an award-winning journalist who’s covered Iraq, Yemen and Egypt, among other turbulent places, was due to cover the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota in October. But U.S. border officials at the Vancouver airport pulled him aside, questioned him for hours and demanded access to his cell phone after learning he was covering the controversial protests. When Ou refused to surrender his phone on the grounds that it would reveal confidential information on his sources, the officials barred him from entering, he says. “This is what an authoritarian regime would do, and I should know, because I've spent the last ten years covering them,” Ou told the BBC. The ensuing outcry has seen both the American Civil Liberties Union and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression denounce the move. But it’s also put the spotlight on legislation that permits authorities to not only search electronic devices within 100 miles of any border, but also go through “work-related information” of journalists – which could include sources. Experts say Ou's situation serves as a reminder that journalists aren't afforded any special protections in the U.S. The Customs and Border Protection agency declined to comment on the matter to the BBC.