U.S. journalist says she was delayed at border, questioned about speech – Amy Goodman alleges border guards repeatedly asked her if she was speaking about the Vancouver Winter Games
An American author and broadcaster claims Canadian border officials questioned her about whether she would discuss the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games at a speaking engagement Wednesday evening in Vancouver.
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now, a radio and television show aired by public and college broadcasters across North America, was entering Canada around 6 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday evening, set to speak at the Vancouver Public Library in an event co-ordinated by a campus radio station at Simon Fraser University.
“When I handed our passports over the border guard, they told us to pull over. We had to go over to the border facility. And they started asking me questions about what I was going to be speaking about. I was totally taken aback. They wanted to see my notes,” Ms. Goodman told the Globe Thursday, recalling the encounter.
Ms. Goodman, 52, began telling them. In the country to promote her book Breaking the Sound Barrier , a collection of the award-winning journalist’s columns, she planned to discuss the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, of which she is a critic; Canadian icon Tommy Douglas, a hero of medicare; global warming; and the worldwide economic meltdown.
“Well, that pretty much does it. And he said, ‘what about the Olympics? ‘And I said, ‘the Olympics? Do you mean when President Obama went to Copenhagen to try and get the Olympics for Chicago?’ ” Ms. Goodman recalled asking.
She claimed the officer persisted in questioning her about Vancouver’s upcoming Games.
“I said, ‘no, I wasn’t planning to talk about that,’ ” she said. “He just seemed incredulous. They didn’t believe me.”
They began to search her notes and computers and those of her two colleagues, Ms. Goodman alleged. They then photographed the journalist and gave her a stipulation to leave the country by Friday night. They were delayed over an hour.
Ms. Goodman characterized the questioning as an undue attack on the freedom of the press.
“There’s supposed to be a separation between the state and the press. The fact that the state was going through my documents, that they were rifling through notes, that they were asking me what I was planning to speak about, is a very serious issue,” she said.
“If journalists fear they will be…monitored, it’s more difficult for the public to get information. And information is the currency of a democracy.”
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