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article imageIsrael's airport security asks travelers to open personal emails

By Katerina Nikolas     Jun 5, 2012 in Travel
Agents from Israel's Shin Bet security service have been demanding access to the personal emails of travelers deemed suspicious, as they arrive at Ben Gurion Airport.
Haaretz reported that American tourists of Arab descent have been subjected to demands that they provide access to their personal emails. Security personnel have read emails and recorded "contacts' names, emails and telephone numbers."
Even after such scrutiny, in addition to other tight security procedures, including strip-searches, travelers have been refused entrance to Israel and held in detention centers until they could be flown out.
Three cases of American women of Arab descent were documented by Haaretz. Najwa Doughman, who is of Palestinian descent, recounted that during her airport interrogation she was asked "Do you feel more Arab or more American?" The security agent questioned her motives for visiting, saying "Why are you coming now for the third time? You can go to Venezuela, to Mexico, to Canada. It is much closer to New York, and much less expensive!”
It was then that access to her personal emails was demanded in an interrogation that lasted five hours. Doughman was then denied entrance to Israel.
According to Alarabiya, Emanuel Gross, a law professor at Haifa University, questions the legality of this latest security measure. He said “In Israel, you need a search warrant to go into somebody’s computer. I’m skeptical that the security guards asked a judge first for a warrant and I’m skeptical that a judge would give it.”
A spokesperson for the Israel Airports Authority said that the security agents responsible "were not employed by the Airports Authority or by Ben Gurion Airport." Shin Bet Security Services confirmed that Shin Bet agents had carried out the interrogations and their actions had been "within the organizations authority according to Israeli law."
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