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U.S. customs chief admits misconduct towards Iranians at U.S.-Canada border

February 12, 2020 - 19:0

The Customs and Border Protection agency’s top official, in a rare admission of misconduct, said Tuesday that agents should not have detained Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canada border last month, The Seattle Times reported.

Mark Morgan, the agency’s acting commissioner, acknowledged that agents behaved in a way “that was not in line with our direction” when they held dozens of U.S. citizens of Iranian heritage, and others with ties to Iran, for questioning at a border crossing in Washington state. His comments were the agency’s first public admission of the incidents.

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 Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani on January 3.

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

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

In a statement, Mousavi said a complaint could be lodged against such conduct at human rights courts.

“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.



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