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Two Chicago Indymedia journalists denied entry to cover G20 meeting and protests in Canada

Two Chicago Indymedia journalists were detained and denied entry to Canada Friday evening, in what is emerging as a dominant dynamic confronting independent journalists seeking to enter the country to cover this weekend's G20 gathering and protests being organized around it.
At approximately 6:30pm Friday night, June 25, two journalists from Chicago Indymedia were detained and denied entry to Canada, in what is emerging as a dominant dynamic confronting independent journalists seeking to enter the country to cover this weekend's G20 gathering and protests being organized around it.

Canadian officials at the Port Huron border crossing 60 miles northeast of Detroit ordered the two journalists to turn off all recording devices as a precurser to being questioned by authorities. They asked Chicago Indymedia's videographer specifically why the reporter had been "refused" entry to Canada previously. The reporter replied that the individual had never been refused entry to Canada and hadn’t been in Canada, or tried to enter, since the videographer was six years old. When asked why the journos were entering Canada, the reporters replied that it was to capture video for public access television in Chicago and satellite television internationally. Officials then asked where the reporters were going and they responded "Toronto." Officials then asked if the reporters were "protesting" the G20. "No," replied the reporters. "We're just taking footage for media/press purposes."

Both reporters note that neither had previously been rejected from entering Canada, and that one had never been in Canada before, yet Canadian officials repeatedly accused them of being protestors. Officials also asked the journos if they had guns, and the reporters repeatedly explained that they were only carrying audio and video recording equipment. Officials also repeatedly checked the reporters' press credentials and a letter of intent from the producer of the local public access show for which they were working, and repeatedly asked the journos what they were 'doing' in Canada and how long they planned to be in the country.

The reporters were were then told to park their car, were subsequently detained, and told to hand over all credentials, passports, and other identification. The Canadian authorities then proceeded to search the reporters' car and all of their luggage. The journos waited on the Canadian side of the border for two hours while Canadian officals ran background checks, presumably to find or manufacture a reason to "refuse" the reporters admission into Canada. Chicago Indymedia's videographer was asked to speak with a Canadian official, who proceeded to state that they'd amassed roughly fifteen pages of 'information' the officials claimed they had on the reporter, and which they argued restricted the reporter from being able to enter Canada.

The reporter asked for copies of the documents that Canadian officials were utilizing as the basis to deny entry into Canada and was told, "These are confidential documents of the Canadian government and we cannot make copies to give you or let you see them." The videographer was then given two "choices": to either sign a document saying the reporter "voluntarily withdraws my application to enter Canada and to leave Canada without delay" -- or to be arrested on site and detained in a nearby Canadian immigration jail. After Canadian officials claimed the videographer could be incarcerated in Canada for 'weeks', the videographer signed the document. That said, the videographer never saw the "evidence" Canadian officials utilized as the basis to reject the journo's entry.

The two journos were then escorted back to their car and told how to reenter the United States.

After waiting in line to reenter the United States, the two journalists were re-questioned briefly by Canadian Border Patrol and told to pull off to the side and exit their vehicle, again -- this time, to be detained by Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the US side of the border. The two waited for another two hours before they were once again questioned by border authorities from both Canada and the US. After being questioned, their car was searched a second time, and again officials found only video and audio equipment. After the second car search, Homeland Security's CBP then allowed the two access to their own country.

Canadian officials have aggressively denied entry to independent journalists seeking to enter the country to cover the G20 meeting and opposition gatherings. Civil liberties advocates have described the climate for people seeking entry to Toronto during the G20 as characterized by the most extreme security restrictions the Canadian government has mounted around this type of gathering.

Besides independent journalists, many activists have been denied entry to Canada, as well, including Medea Benjamin and associates from Code Pink who were seeking to enter for the G20 protests after attending the US Social Forum in Detroit.



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