] ] Reporters Without Borders today protested against the
] ] detention of six French journalists on arrival a week ago
] ] at Los Angeles international airport to cover a video
] ] games trade show and their forcible repatriation after
] ] being held at the airport for more than 24 hours.
] ] "These journalists were treated like criminals -
] ] subjected to several body searches, handcuffed, locked up
] ] and fingerprinted," Reporters Without Borders
] ] secretary-general Robert Ménard complained in a letter to
] ] the US ambassador to Paris, Howard Leach.
I assume by "video games trade show", they're probably referring to E-3, so I'll throw in my $0.02 here. The latest numbers on the show, btw, are that there were 62,000 attendees. I know from personal experience that there were many international visitors (Cambodia, Hong Kong, Netherlands, etc.). I also specifically asked the attendee from Hong Kong whether he'd encountered any special procedures upon arrival in the U.S., and he said no, it all went quite smoothly, and there were no health checks on the U.S. side whatsoever -- but that leaving Hong Kong there were elaborate SARS-screening measures in place, including some sort of x-ray/scope device that scanned his entire body, and an "ear thermometer" to check his temperature.
One important consideration about attendance at E-3, is that since it's a highly-coveted event that is industry-only, meaning that it's not open to the general public, there are routinely many people who try to get in claiming that they're press or industry, even if they're not. For example, one common tactic is for someone to take a part-time job at a Blockbuster store somewhere, then use their Blockbuster credentials to request an E-3 pass, and then quit the job once they got the pass.
It wouldn't surprise me to learn that there were people coming in from other countries who claimed to be press, but weren't, and then got caught at the airport when they couldn't provide a proper press visa. What *does* surprise and concern me about this article though, is the fate of the companions whose paperwork was in order. In both described incidents, there were a couple people who successfully passed through immigration, while their traveling companion was detained. Then, when the "cleared" people asked the authorities about their companion, the cleared people were detained, searched, and deported as well?? That doesn't sit well with me, unless it comes out that the "cleared" people were bogus press as well, and when they tried to social-engineer the system to get their companion through, their paperwork was examined more closely and the flaws were discovered.
I've never heard of any of the people or press sources that were cited in the article, so I can't offer an opinion on whether or not they're legit. I'd be interested in reading an objective account of the situation though.
RE: Reporters sans frontières - Six French journalists detained on arrival at Los Angeles, sent back to France