Tehran censures U.S. interrogation of Iranian-born travelers illegal and inhumane

January 25, 2020 - 19:55

TEHRAN — Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has condemned the United States’ Customs and Border Protection for its “illegal” and “inhumane” treatment of Iranian nationals as a brazen violation of human rights.

In a statement on Saturday, Mousavi said a complaint could be lodged against such conduct at human rights courts, the Foreign Ministry website reported.

“Such absolutely discriminatory measures that are taken only because of the race, nationality or maybe the faith of people are totally rejected in terms of the international human rights laws and principles, and would result in accountability for the U.S. government,” he added.

“Since those (Iranian) individuals have been questioned by the U.S. border guards and security forces about their political and theological beliefs and their accounts in the virtual space have been also investigated coercively, such measure amounts to an example of inquisition and a blatant violation of human rights,” the spokesman deplored.

Mousavi further condemned the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s harassment of the Iranian citizens, saying, “Such measures against the Iranians are part of the U.S. regime’s hostile and vindictive policy towards Iran and its identity and existence that transpires once in the shape of the decision to ban Iranians from entering the U.S., once in the (form of) threat of attack on Iran’s cultural and civilizational centers, another time in the cowardly assassination of the mythic hero of the fight against terrorism, and most recently in another form in the harassment of Iranians at the borders of the U.S.”

“Such behavior from the U.S. government could be definitely brought to and sued by the human rights tribunals,” the spokesman concluded.

U.S. border officers working at Canadian border crossings were directed to stop travelers of Iranian descent for questioning following the U.S. assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, CNN reported on Friday, citing an unnamed Customs and Border Protection officer.

More than 60 people were held for additional questioning in Washington State, the New York Times reported earlier this month, citing advocacy groups and accounts from travelers.

It came in the days following the assassination of Soleimani on January 3, after which Iran threatened to retaliate against the United States.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press secretary Matt Leas said in a January 5 statement “social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false. Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”

An email sent to immigration attorney Leonard Saunders by a Washington state CBP officer tells a different story. The officer claimed that there was indeed such a directive which was only lifted, “as soon as it hit the national news.”

“This thing that happened was Seattle Field Office wide,” the officer wrote. “Multiple Americans of Persian birth were held and interrogated at length.”

The officer said he was involved in the questioning of Iranian-born travelers.

“We asked them standard counter terrorism inspection questions. Was there an Immigration reason for detaining them? No. Was there a Customs reason for detaining them? No. Was the sole reason we detained and questioned them due to their national origin? Yes. Was it the right thing to do? No. Where (sic) their constitutional rights violated? Probably.”

MH/PA
 

Leave a Comment

1 + 3 =