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Tor Developer Detained At US Border, Pressed On Wikileaks 637

Posted by timothy
from the number-you've-reached-has-been-changed dept.
suraj.sun writes with this news from CNET: "A security researcher involved with the Wikileaks Web site — Jacob Appelbaum, a Seattle-based programmer for the online privacy protection project called Tor — was detained by US agents at the border for three hours and questioned about the controversial whistleblower project as he entered the country on Thursday to attend a hacker conference. He was also approached by two FBI agents at the Defcon conference after his presentation on Saturday afternoon about the Tor Project. Appelbaum, a US citizen, arrived at the Newark, New Jersey, airport from Holland Thursday morning, was taken into a room, frisked and his bag was searched. Officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Army then told him he was not under arrest but was being detained. They asked questions about Wikileaks, asked for his opinions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and asked where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is, but he declined to comment without a lawyer present, according to the sources. He was not permitted to make a phone call, they said." Appelbaum told me that he just spoke at length with The New York Times, and quipped that his Defcon talk about Tor was "just fine, until the FBI showed up"; this post will likely be updated with more details. Update: 08/02 03:59 GMT by T : Here's the NYT's coverage.
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Tor Developer Detained At US Border, Pressed On Wikileaks

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  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:32PM (#33102322)

    asked for his opinions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

    That's more worrying than the detention etc. But then ground-level grunts never did know the law well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Who said anything about it being a crime? What law says that law enforcement officers can't ask questions?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2010 @03:00PM (#33102550)

        Who said anything about it being a crime? What law says that law enforcement officers can't ask questions?

        None. They can always ask questions, but you are not required to answer (see 5th).

        But once the Customs & Border patrol determined that:

        1. This guy is a genuine card-carrying American.
        2. This guy is not carrying any illegal contraband on his person or in his belongings.
        3. There is no warrant pending for his arrest.

        He has therefore committed no crime, he has the right to enter the United States of America, and they have no right to detain him.

        I hope he sues the fucks for a few million for violating his constitutional rights.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:42PM (#33103454) Journal

        >>>What law says that law enforcement officers can't ask questions?

        They can. But you don't have to answer per the following Supreme Laws: "No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." ----- "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." ----- "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." (Such as the right to travel freely without impediment.)

        Now one could argue that because it's an international border, they can detain you forever, but I don't buy that argument especially when it involves Documented US citizens. Rights are inalienable and you have them even if the government is a Tyrant that does not recognize those rights. Indefinite detainment is a human rights abuse, and makes the US no better than the USSR or China or Cuba or Iraq.

        • by ArundelCastle (1581543) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @07:55PM (#33105254)

          Rights are inalienable and you have them even if the government is a Tyrant that does not recognize those rights.

          Sounds good on paper. If it's you and two G-men in a room, and those two guys decide to beat you to death, writing a letter to your congressman will not solve anything after the fact.

          Speaking as a student of law and philosophy, we like to think that morality and duty makes discussions of "rights" more important than children inventing rules on a playground. But it isn't like that out in the real world. Rights only matter if people and governments respect them. Laws only work on people and governments that care about consequences of breaking them.

    • by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:53PM (#33102488)

      It's an obvious ploy to get him to start talking. More obvious is the line about "human rights being trampled". Once he starts talking the hope is he'll spill some information the FBI doesn't already know. Many people fall for this kind if thing as it appeals to their ego. Appelbaum is obviously smart enough to realize there's really nothing for him to gain by talking to the FBI, and only things to lose.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:47PM (#33103498) Journal

        There's nothing to be gain from talking to ANY officer. Name, drivers license, and that's it. (And if you're driving, you don't even need to show an drivers license. "My name is ____," will comply with the law. When I was pulled over by the Homeland Gestapo while traveling across the country, they tried to get me to talk but I refused.

        "Why won't you let us search your trunk?"
        "You said you don't have a search warrant."
        "What do you got in there?"
        "....."
        "Where are you headed?"
        "....."
        "Where did you come from?"
        "....."

        They then made me stand in the hot afternoon sun for an hour, but I refused to comply. Eventually they let me go when they realized they had no other option.

    • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOsPam.Gmail.com> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:40PM (#33103438) Homepage Journal

      That's more worrying than the detention etc.

      Why? A crime occured... classified documents were given to unauthorized group, and the government is looking for both who leaked them, and who helped the leaker get the classified documents out. Asking him his opinions on the wars... a prime motivation for the leakers, almost certainly, is no different from investigators asking a suspect opinions like "Do you think the victim deserved it?"... it's all about building a case and establishing motivation. There is absolutely nothing unusual about this. Investigators and prosecuters have been doing it as long as there have been investigators and prosecutors. There's nothing unconstitutional about it all. After all, you DO have the right to remain silent. If you don't, that's your business.

      BTW, how is what the leakers did any different than people that gave classified docs to the Soviets and Chinese? Motivation? It's the same motivation. My government is wrong, and the best way to change that is to help their enemies. Here's a bag of classified documents.

      Assange is a little different, as he's a foreigner on something of a crusade against "American Imperialism", but Bradley Manning is no different from the couple that were just sentenced to prison for shoveling classified info to Castro for years.

      • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Monday August 02, 2010 @07:26AM (#33108526)

        Manning was releasing information to the public about a US military cover-up of several murders and the attempted murder of children. It was his duty as a US citizen to make the public aware of the heinous acts being committed in our name. No damaging classified information was released. No actual harm was done except to the reputation of the US military. Manning was a patriot and a hero as is wikileaks for having the courage to release the information even knowing how angry it would make the US government. Restraining the US military from the callous murder of civilians is of the utmost importance to our country. The problem was the murders themselves, not the leaked information about them. The US military are the bad guys here. Congress should be investigating *them*.

  • UFFSA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:34PM (#33102340)

    Welcome to the United Federal Fascist State of America. Please enjoy your stay...

    This kinda stuff is totally unacceptable. What law did he break? What was he accused of? Why was he detained? What right do they have to ask such questions? On what planet is a 3 hour detention reasonable?

    • Re:UFFSA (Score:5, Informative)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:56PM (#33102520) Journal
      They thought he might be related to a crime (releasing classified documents. Whether you think that should be a crime or not is a different subject). In nearly any country, if the police think you are involved in some crime, they have the power to detain you and ask questions. There is no problem with this: it's what we want our police to be doing, solving crimes. And they do catch real criminals (murderers, etc) at the border. Really, being questioned or detained at a border doesn't make a country fascist.

      The biggest news here is that the government is serious about finding who leaked those documents. For some reason that really annoyed someone high up.

      The biggest problem with what happened is something that wasn't even mentioned in the summary: they kept three of his cell phones for no apparent reason. The article only presents one side of the story, but assuming it is accurate, this is unjust. They shouldn't keep objects without a reason.
  • The horror (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reginald2 (1859758) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:38PM (#33102386)

    Officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Army then told him he was not under arrest but was being detained.

    Some of the most horrific words the war on terror has produced.

    ...asked for his opinions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...

    *shudders*

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FrankHS (835148)

      And if he had said. "I think the United states should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.", what happens then?

      Yet as far as I know it is still legal to hold the belief that we should get out of there.

  • arrested/detained? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:46PM (#33102444)

    Curious. Is it just me, or is the whole "you're not arrested, you're detained" just yet another attempt to avoid getting around the limits that the law, constitution etc. set by making up a new word?

    Kinda like "enemy combatant" (no Geneva convention for you, Afghanis!), perhaps.

    Put another way: if he was not under arrest, was he free to go? If he was not free to go, how was he not under arrest?

    • by volkerdi (9854) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @03:00PM (#33102548)

      The rules are different at the border. Until you pass the border, they can detain you without arresting you, and they can do so on a mere hunch. You aren't "in the United States" yet, and you do not have your constitutional rights until you are.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CrashandDie (1114135)

        So which constitutional rights do you have? Which laws apply? It was said he came from Holland, do Dutch laws apply?

        It seems weird that having just landed, you do not benefit from any protection, and they are free to do as they will. How come that US law applies to a plane that flies around the planet, having departed the US, until it hits the ground in another country, but the other way around doesn't work?

        So effectively, until the plane lands in the US, it is still under Dutch law, but not yet under US la

      • IAAL but IANAIL (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cheesethegreat (132893) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @03:34PM (#33102782)

        (I am a lawyer but I am not an immigration lawyer)

        Immigration law "airside" is complex. You are right to say that you are not yet on USA soil. However, that doesn't mean that the agents are entitled to act without limit. Their actions can still be reviewed by a court, and they cannot act beyond the powers given to them. For example, they are undoubtedly empowered to detain a person where necessary to determine their immigration status (for example, they suspect a US passport may be forged). However, the power to detain is also going to have limits. For example, an agent who detained an individual because they were wearing a hat from a rival baseball team may well be exceeding their powers, and that decision could be found illegal on review.

        So, as the above poster mentioned, if they had a "hunch" that the person was entering illegally, then they may well be allowed to detain them. But this hunch seems based on the idea that the person might be involved with a criminal activity. Are the Border Patrol entitled to decline entry/detain a US citizen suspected of crime? I don't know. And what empowered US Army representatives to speak to the man? Again, I'm unclear. If Border Patrol were done with him, and they detained him to enable Army reps to speak to him, they would, possibly be using their powers for a purpose not authorised by the empowering instruments.

        I would be very interested to hear exactly what grounds the individual was detained under, and whether it was within the scope of the empowering instrument. I suspect that this may have been pushing the boundaries, but without knowing the laws I can't possibly say for sure.

        I look forward to being corrected by anyone with more knowledge than me.

      • by bl968 (190792) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:12PM (#33103202) Journal

        Actually you can be detained and searched up to 100 Miles [aclu.org] from the Border.... It's the Constitution free zone... Roughly 2/3rd of the US population (197.4 million people) live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders.

  • "Detained" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seeker_1us (1203072) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:50PM (#33102462)

    Officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Army then told him he was not under arrest but was being detained.

    He is an American citizen, so there isn't an Immigration issue here. So the only thing left for "detaining" is Customs while they go through his stuff. Well, they can do that.

    The article actually does say the "detaining" was him waiting for customs to search his bags, laptop, and cell phones (one of which they "seized").

    What does not seem normal is the Army being there. He is not a combatent. He is a US Citizen. I do not see how the Army can tell him he is "detained."

  • Goes with the job (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaMP12000 (710387) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:52PM (#33102486)
    A security researcher involved with a website that leaks confidential documents on his way to a hacking conference was questioned for 3 hours at a border... So what? Isn't that expected for this type of work? Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favor of heavy government snooping but he kind of had it coming... If I was him, I would surely expect this to happen once in a while. Nothing to see here, move along...
  • Our reputation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by $beirdo (318326) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @03:51PM (#33102970) Homepage

    Robert Gates said that the release of the WikiLeaks documents may damage our reputation in Afghanistan.

    Perhaps it is rather the fact that we kill people and lie about it that damages our reputation in Afghanistan.

    We have a right to be informed, because if the public is misled, democracy itself becomes false.

    Those who fear the truth are not fit to lead.

  • What IS The Law? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Toad-san (64810) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @04:35PM (#33103386)

    Can someone (who knows what the hell they're talking about, and can give cites) please tell us what the actual Federal law is that controls this situation.

    Because I tell ya what, folks: some son of a bitch detains ME and they got some 'splainin' to do!

    "Am I under arrest?"

    "No? Then shoot me, mother f*cker, or get out of the way."

    And I'm headed for the door. And ANYONE who lays a hand on me is guilty of assault, and I plan to protect myself.

    Screw it; my retirement pay comes in whether I'm in jail or not.

    Toad

    • So let's say a crime has happened, or the police expect one has. They got a 911 call to that effect. There's a bunch of people around, and it looks like something might have happened. When they come up, you say "I'm leaving." They can detain you. They don't arrest you yet, since it isn't clear you've done anything wrong, but they can tell you that you can't leave. Reason is that they don't want you running off, should it be that they need to arrest you. So for how long? Isn't precisely defined. Like many th

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by seeker_1us (1203072)

      If you get a passport and do some international travelling, you are going to have to lose your attitude.

      Do a little research about the authority of the Customs. It's not very difficult. [wikipedia.org]

      Any country's port of entry has the right to search your stuff, including your own country. You will wait for that process to be complete if they choose to do this.

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