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Fmr Norwegian PM held at US Airport for visiting Iran

3 February 2017 04:57 pm - 5     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik has said that he was questioned and prevented from leaving the Washington Dulles Airport for about an hour on Tuesday apparently because he had visited Iran in 2014, the Business Standard said today.  

Bondevik, who flew into Dulles Airport from Europe on Tuesday afternoon, was not immediately allowed to leave after customs agents saw in his passport that he had been to Iran, reports ABC7.

His passport also indicates he is the former prime minister of Norway, a U.S. ally.

"Of course I fully understand the fear of letting terrorists come into this country," said Bondevik, adding that it should have been obvious he's not a terrorist.

"It should be enough when they found that I have a diplomatic passport, [that I'm a] former prime minister. That should be enough for them to understand that I don't represent any problem or threat to this country and [to] let me go immediately, but they didn't," he said.

Bondevik, who served as the prime minister of Norway from 1997-2000 and 2001-2005, said that he was placed in a room with travellers from the Middle East and Africa who were also facing extra scrutiny.

He said that he had to sit and wait for about 40 minutes and then he was questioned for about 20 minutes regarding a trip to Iran in 2014.

Bondevik, also the president of a human rights organization called The Oslo Center, went to Iran in 2014 to speak at a human rights conference there.

Although President Trump's controversial temporary travel ban has led to extra scrutiny of many travellers in the past week, Bondevik said that he was told the scrutiny he received had nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was related to a 2015 law signed by then president Barack Obama. The law signed in the wake of terrorist attacks in California and Paris was aimed at protecting the U.S. from terrorists.

It places extra restrictions on some citizens from 38 countries -- including Norway -- that are part of the US's Visa Waiver Program.

Citizens of those countries normally do not need a visa to visit the US for up to 90 days, but because of the law they now do need a visa if they have been to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 2011. Those are the same seven countries Trump included in his temporary travel ban.

Bondevik said that his office contacted the US Embassy in Oslo prior to his trip this week and was told his passport and a separate electronic travel authorization (called ESTA) would be sufficient to enter the United States.

"I was surprised, and I was provoked. What will the reputation of the US be if this happens not only to me, but also to other international leaders?" he said about being set aside for questioning.

A spokesperson with US Customs and Border Protection said CBP is prohibited by privacy laws from discussing specifics of any.

Bondevik came to the US to attend Thursday morning's National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton.

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  Comments - 5

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  • Bala Friday, 03 February 2017 05:23 PM

    So Trump's travel ban was only an extension of rule under Obama. As usual it has be hyped by interested parties - like JOkers in Sri Lanka

    Kale Saturday, 04 February 2017 08:34 PM

    Yes, Norway, long known as a colonising power, and for its unprovoked invasions of its neighbours...god knows why they tried to help find peace in Sri Lanka, with people like you.

    Kasunsri Gunaratne Friday, 03 February 2017 05:33 PM

    Norway should Try to peruse the EU to remove GSP against USA , And Also bring a HR case against US in the HR council .

    Dammika Friday, 03 February 2017 05:34 PM

    Excellent .... Norway MUST learn ... they do all mafia work and they are the biggest trouble creators in the world

    BuffaloaCitizen Friday, 03 February 2017 05:34 PM

    When a monkey is given authority, he simply does not know how to use it in a civilized manner. This is exactly what US citizens did when they elected Trump. In another 2 years, Trump would have done irreversible damage to the credentials of USA that those same citizens who voted for him will regret.


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