US halts former premier at airport

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Kjell Magne Bondevik, a former Norwegian prime minister who most recently has been running a peace institute in Oslo, was detained at Dulles International Airport outside Washington DC on Wednesday. Immigration officials were suspicious about a stamp in his diplomatic passport that showed he had been in Iran.

Former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, photographed here after attending the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in December, was stopped by US immigration officials when he landed in the US on Wednesday. They questioned him for an hour about a stamp in his diplomatic passport showing that he’d been in Iran. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

Norway’s national commercial television channel TV2 reported Thursday night that Bondevik had traveled to the US to attend the annual prayer breakfast involving various religions that’s traditionally held after the inauguration of a new US president. Bondevik is an ordained minister and former leader of the Christian Democrats party, and has served both as Norway’s foreign minister and prime minister.

He told TV2 he was stopped at the airport’s border control and questioned for around an hour.

“They began to ask me why I had been in Iran and what I was going to do in the US,” Bondevik told TV2. “They shouldn’t have had any reason to fear a former prime minister who has been on official visits to the US several times.”

Bondevik wound up a target, however, of the new ban ordered by US President Donald Trump on entry into the US for all citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya. All refugees have also been banned from entering the US for the next four months, while Syrian citizens and refugees have been banned indefinitely.

As a former prime minister, Bondevik remains entitled to a diplomatic passport. That didn’t stop the US border agents from placing him under suspicion. Bondevik said he had also traveled to the US with the same passport containing the same stamp from Iran last year without being stopped or questioned.

“It seems as though when the name of one of the banned countries comes up, they now put up the barbed wire,” Bondevik said. “It was entirely unnecessary suspicion. I became quite provoked.”

Bondevik, who has worked for years on peace and reconciliation efforts around the world, said he can understand the fear of terror, “but you shouldn’t treat entire groups of people in this manner. I have to admit I fear the future (with Trump as president). There’s been a lot of progress in the world the last few decades, but this gives great cause for concern, along with the authoritarian leaders we see steering other large countries.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

  • 1Gandydancer

    Why does he have a diplomatic passport if he’s a private citizen now?

    Anyway, if he goes to Iran he needs a visa to enter the US. That’s the law. Obama’s law, not Trump’s, btw.

    • Julia Mercado

      Try again. The visa waiver program applies to residents of the country on the list. Norway is not on that list. Don’t blame 45’s screw up on President Obama.

      • 1Gandydancer

        Norway is most definitely on the visa waiver program list, and Iran is most definitely on Obama’s list of countries of “concern” where a visit triggers loss of the no-visa benefit. YOU try again.

        • Julia Mercado

          After the December 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, President Obama signed an amendment to the Visa Waiver Program, a law that allows citizens of P38 countries to travel to the United States without obtaining visas (and gives Americans reciprocal privileges in those countries). The amendment removed from the Visa Waiver Program dual nationals who were citizens of four countries (Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Syria) or anyone who had recently traveled to those countries. The Obama administration added three more to the list (Libya, Somalia, and Yemen), bringing the total to seven. But this law did not bar anyone from coming to the United States. They are using it to revoke visas, not its intention.

          • Disestablishmentarian

            Of course Obama did not intend Trump’s EO, but as the EO notes, “pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I[President Trump] hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.” 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) reads, in relevant part, “(f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President – Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.” There’s nothing illegitimate about repurposing the section 217(a)(12) list in this fashion.

  • Kristina Longmuir

    oooh a whole hour of inconvenience when the safety of the nation is at risk. Cry me a river…

    • stylt

      Maybe you have hours to waste, others don’t.

      • Kristina Longmuir

        It was a single hour. I’ve been delayed going through TSA for longer than that just to board a domestic flight. Travel comes with delays. International travel even more. He could have easily been delayed by a mechanical issue or weather. Crybabies just want to cry.

        • stylt

          She needs others to answer for her?

  • Hidalgo Fox

    https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program/visa-waiver-program-improvement-and-terrorist-travel-prevention-act-faq

    It is possible that he did not update his ESTA profile in 2016. If the Iran travel was conducted as PM then of course the visa waiver is intact; if it was for the Peace Institute then he needs to indicate the NGO exemption. Border bureaucracy is sometimes a headache, but international business and nonprofit travelers deal with it routinely.

    • Disestablishmentarian

      He hasn’t been PM since 2005.

  • 1Gandydancer

    I understand the sentence perfectly well, and unlike you I understand perfectly well that it is utter nonsense. To be properly entitled to a diplomatic passport you must be agent of your government engaged in diplomatic activity. Try again to comprehend the question: “Why does he have a diplomatic passport if he’s a private citizen now?”

    Nor do you even vaguely understand why Bondevik was inconvenienced. “If a country refuses diplomatic relations with you, you are hardly going to allow its citizens in without a visa” is entirely irrelevant. He’s not a citizen of Iran, he’s a citizen of Norway and would normally be able to enter the US without a visa. But because of his recent visit to Iran, a country on OBAMA’s list of the 7 countries of “concern” he was required by OBAMA’s policy to get a visa. As to, “you bring Obama’s name into it which makes you something of a racist”, that sentence just demonstrates that you are a nutjob.

  • inquisitor

    Good. The security improvements are working as planned.

  • Disestablishmentarian

    Bondevik.

  • Disestablishmentarian

    If you AGREE that bringing Obama’s name into a discussion where Obama is relevant is “racist” then YOU are a nutjob too.

  • Disestablishmentarian

    1Gandydancer: “Anyway, if he goes to Iran he needs a visa to enter the US. That’s the law. Obama’s law, not Trump’s, btw.”

    No “blame” is asserted. I take it 1Gandy thinks Obama’s law was a good but inadequate thing, and Trump’s EO was better (but still inadequate). I certainly do.