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Snowden documentarian Laura Poitras sues U.S. over airport 'harassment'

By Jared M. Feldschreiber
Snowden documentarian Laura Poitras sues U.S. over airport 'harassment'
Documentarian and Pulitzer Prize winner Laura Poitras has filed suit against the U.S. government, saying she had been harassed at U.S. airports for six years. File Photo by Terry Straehley/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, July 14 (UPI) -- Oscar-winning director Laura Poitras is suing the U.S. government, demanding to know why she was repeatedly subjected to "Kafkaesque harassment" at U.S. airports between 2006 and 2012.

The 51-year-old documentarian -- famous for her Pulitzer Prize-winning work and a documentary about National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden -- said she was held up and unfairly targeted more than 50 times.

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Poitras filed the complaint on Monday, demanding that the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Security release all documents pertaining to the "tracking, targeting, and questioning while traveling between 2006 and 2012."

Poitras also said her Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to her "systemic targeting" has still been unanswered by the FBI.

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"I'm filling this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law. This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy," Poitras said in a statement released by The Intercept, the news agency she co-founded. "I am also filing this suit in support of the countless other high-profile people who have 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."

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Poitras won a joint Pulitzer Prize award for her reporting on Snowden, who faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of stealing and leaking classified information about the NSA's practice of collecting cellphone records. Snowden shared documents with Poitras, as well as journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.

Poitras' 2015 film CitizenFour won Best Documentary at the 2015 Oscars.

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Snowden fled the United States in 2013. He was granted legal asylum in Russia last year in hopes of escaping criminal charges by the U.S. government.


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