McGill student’s run-in with U.S. border agents prompts lawsuit

News Agencies – April 8, 2012

 

A Montreal university student was detained at the U.S. border, held for several hours, interrogated, had his personal belongings searched and saw his computer confiscated for more than a week. What caught the authorities’ attention? His doctoral research on Islamic studies, he says. In a case that has attracted media attention in the U.S., Pascal Abidor has become embroiled in a drawn-out legal battle with the American government – and a poster child for civil-rights advocates defending the right to privacy and due process. Mr. Abidor, a 28-year-old American and French dual citizen, was returning by train to Brooklyn in May, 2010, when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent stopped him at the border in Champlain, N.Y.

The agent turned on Mr. Abidor’s computer and found photos of rallies by the Hamas militant group. He says he explained that he had downloaded them from Google as part of his McGill University doctoral dissertation on the modern history of Shiites in Lebanon.

The judge has yet to rule on whether he will dismiss the case.