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Former Mozilla CTO detained at US border and denied a lawyer

Image: CBP

Former Mozilla Chief Technical Officer Andreas Gal filed today a civil rights complaint against the US Customs and Border Protection agency after a November 2018 incident during which Gal was detained and questioned at the San Francisco International Airport, asked to unlock devices, and denied a lawyer.

The incident took place on November 29, last year, according to a copy of the civil rights complaint obtained by ZDNet that Gal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed against the CBP.

Gal has been outspoken against Trump and the CBP

Gal, who is a US citizen, said that after returning from a trip to Europe, the Global Entry kiosk directed him to a CBP agent who kept his passport and sent Gal through a secondary inspection.

For the subsequent hours, three armed agents wearing bulletproof vests questioned the former Mozilla CTO about his trip, his current Apple employment, his past work at Mozilla, and his work as a privacy advocate.

The interrogation and search took place just a week after Apple publicly confirmed plans to buy Silk Labs, the AI-focused startup that Gal started after he left Mozilla in 2015. But in an interview with ZDNet today, Gal said that agents focused their interrogation on other topics.

"I was asked at length about my work for Mozilla," Gal said. "Until this incident, I have never been questioned like this by the CBP in my life."

"The only thing that changed recently is that I have spoken out against Trump administration policies, including immigration policies and CBP," Gal added. "I can't be sure which of these (or other) signals triggered the search, but it definitely has a chilling effect on free speech."

CBP agents denied Gal access to a lawyer ...
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