An article published yesterday by Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald details the Department of Homeland Security’s repeated questioning and harassment of an American filmmaker when she has attempted to reenter the country after traveling overseas.
According to Greewald’s article, award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has released two films of a trilogy about the War on Terror, has endured DHS interrogations nearly each of the 40 times she has tried to reenter the country since 2006, when her first documentary film about a Sunni opposition leader in Iraq was released.
Agents often wait for her at the door as she disembarks from international flights. Poitras, a US citizen, has been interrogated for hours, had her personal belongings and reporter’s notebooks seized, held and copied, and her laptop, phone and other devices searched and copied.
It is easy to imagine photojournalists who are working on projects that may be critical of the US government or its “War on Terror” suffering similar difficulties, and DHS’s treatment of Poitras should outrage any US journalist.
As Greenwald reports, Poitras is not alone in her experiences, but her systematic harassment has made traveling for her work miserable, and she has been forced to resort to other methods of transporting and transmitting her work in order to protect her privacy, her rights as a journalist, and the identities of her sources.
Writes Greenwald: “She now avoids traveling with any electronic devices. She uses alternative methods to deliver the most sensitive parts of her work — raw film and interview notes — to secure locations. She spends substantial time and resources protecting her computers with encryption and password defenses. Especially when she is in the U.S., she avoids talking on the phone about her work, particularly to sources. And she simply will not edit her films at her home out of fear — obviously well-grounded — that government agents will attempt to search and seize the raw footage.”
Greenwald’s article also notes that two pieces of legislation proposed by congresspeople aimed at limiting DHS’s power to question US citizens have gained zero traction.
The article is well worth the read for any photojournalists who are working overseas, especially those who are reporting stories on sensitive topics like America’s military actions.
If you’ve been detained or questioned by DHS because of your work and are open to sharing your story with the PDN audience, please comment below or send an email to: email@example.com.
Don McCullin, 81, the London-born war photographer who covered conflict in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and, most recently, Iraq, has been awarded a knighthood. McCullin was one of a handful British citizens who received the award as part of the New Year Honours list issued by the Queen of England. McCullin told the... More ›
For the cover story in the current issue of New York magazine, Platon made portraits of 44 immigrants, ranging in age from one month to 91 years old. His portraits of the subjects, photographed singly and in groups, fill nine pages in the annual “Reasons to Love New York” issue. Platon photographed the parade of... More ›
Hacking is much in the news of late, but the Freedom of the Press Foundation is concerned about a less visible, yet no-less-vital, aspect of information security: the security of digital cameras. Or, more accurately, the lack thereof. The Foundation has published a letter from over 150 documentary filmmakers and photographers that calls on the major... More ›