Publications made by friends on social networks and messages received on WhatsApp can serve as a justification for authorities to prevent people from entering the United States. This is what happened with two men who had their visas canceled after their cell phones were analyzed by police officers.
The most recent case happened on Tuesday (27) and involves a 17-year-old Palestinian student who lives in Lebanon. He landed at Boston International Airport on a student visa to begin his studies at Harvard University.
However, the document was canceled by the US Customs and Border Protection Service. Officials made the decision after analyzing the student’s smartphone and allegedly encountering problems with friends’ publications on social media.
The young man said he “should not be held responsible” for what others publish, but his appeal was not taken into account. With his visa canceled, the young man was deported to Lebanon the day before his classes started.
Tourist was deported for messages received
Unfortunately, situations like these are not new. Nine months ago, a Pakistani man on a temporary visa to visit the US was deported after Customs officials examined his smartphone and notebook.
He had landed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, but an image received on WhatsApp in September 2018 prevented him from leaving the site. The photo showed a murdered and mutilated child.
The tourist said an acquaintance sent the image in a group to alert parents to cases of child abductions in his home town. The material was used by officials to cancel the visa for the man, who reported staying at the airport for 15 hours until he received a response.
He tried to explain that the image could easily be found on the internet, but he was not allowed to enter the US on the grounds that the material was his responsibility. “We found this on your cell phone,” said a police officer, who questioned whether it was related to organ trafficking.
The man sought more information about the case at the U.S. Embassy in Karachi, Pakistan, but was unsuccessful. With that, he decided to pay hundreds of dollars to receive his records under the American law on access to information.
The documents point out that the tourist was not authorized to enter the country due to “derogatory images found on his cell phone” and for having stated that he intended to work in the country, which was denied by himself.
Customs canceled the visa despite admitting that the man denied taking the photo and did not believe the sender was the author. Still, he is banned from returning to the United States for the next five years.
With information: TechCrunch.