Snowden Film Director Suing Government for Harassment

Award-winning documentarian Laura Poitras, whose Edward Snowden feature Citizenfour took home an Oscar in February, is suing the United States government for information concerning what she calls dozens of harassing detainments by security officials at airports both in the U.S. and abroad.

Poitras’ career has centered on politically charged films, starting with 2003’s Flag Wars, but while promoting My Country, My Country in 2006, which was critical of the Iraq War. The filmmaker said she began facing increased scrutiny and harassment while traveling overseas for work.

TheWrap reports she filed a lawsuit Monday in Washington, D.C., and alleges from 2006-2012 she was subjected to enhanced security screenings, including being singled out for prolonged detainments when she reentered the United States from working abroad, and sometimes prior to departing.

“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law,” Poitras said in legal documents.

She added: “This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy. I am also filing this suit in support of the countless other less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders. We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”

Poitras says in addition to being held for hours at a time, she had been told by security officials her name was on the government’s No Fly List, and once had her electronic equipment held for 41 days.

She claims the contents of the equipment, including her computer, camera and phone were copied, and she also faced a threat of being placed in handcuffs for taking notes during an interrogation with border agents.

A press release obtained by TheWrap states Poitras’ added security stopped suddenly in 2012, when journalist and colleague Glenn Greenwald reported the story in The Atlantic.

Poitras’ lawsuit names the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Her film Citizenfour, which followed conversations with notorious NSA whistleblower and international fugitive Edward Snowden, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary back in February.


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