By Vincent Wood, The Independent, October 2019
Government officials are investigating after a US journalist reported his passport was withheld by a border agent who repeatedly asked him to admit he wrote propaganda as he attempted to re-enter the country.
Ben Watson, a news editor at American national defense publication Defense One and a former US army public affairs officer, said he had arrived at Dulles airport in Washington DC following an assignment in Denmark.
However as passed through airport security he was confronted by a Customs and Border Protection official, who Mr Watson said proceeded to ask him what he did for a living.
When he responded “journalism” he said the official, still holding his passport, responded “so you write propaganda right?”
As reported in Mr Watson’s own publication, the journalist said he did not.
After being asked the same question a second time, he said he recalled saying “No. I am in journalism. Covering national security. And homeland security. And with many of the same skills I used in the US Army as a public affairs officer. Some would argue that’s propaganda.”
The officer allegedly went on to ask him the same question a total of four times before Mr Watson responded “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes.” – at which point he was handed his passport back.
The journalist told his colleagues shortly afterwards: “I’ve honestly never had a human attempt to provoke me like this before in my life. This behaviour is totally normal now, I guess?”.
Read the full story via The Independent