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Indian-origin Nasa scientist detained at US border, phone confiscated

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sidd Bikkannavar was held by immigration officials when he returned to Houston.
  • Agents confiscated his phone and demanded the pin access number without citing reasons.
  • He was detained till he parted with the information.

Sidd Bikkannavar was detained by immigration officials on his return to US from a trip to Chile. Sidd Bikkannavar was detained by immigration officials on his return to US from a trip to Chile.

WASHINGTON: A US-born Nasa scientist of Indian-origin was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) authorities on his return to America from a trip to Chile and pressured into unlocking his phone, amid an anxious debate on how far the Trump administration intends to take the “extreme vetting” that it has promised and whether it would be applied to more recent US-citizens of foreign origin.

Sidd Bikkannavar, who works at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), was held by immigration officials when he returned to Houston four days after President Trump signed his controversial executive order on travels into US.

Agents confiscated his phone and demanded the pin access number without citing reasons, but since the phone was issued by Nasa and contained sensitive material, Bikkannavar initially declined to comply. He was detained till he parted with the information. With his light skin and long brown locks, Bikkannavar does not look very “foreign” (or “Muslim” as some reports erroneously described him; his last name is from the Hubli-Dharwad region in North Karnataka).

Besides, he is also enrolled in Global Entry — a programme through CBP that allows individuals who have undergone background checks to have expedited entry into the country. He had gone to Chile on a personal trip, pursuing his hobby of racing solar-powered cars.

“Just to be clear — I’m a US-born citizen and Nasa engineer, travelling with a valid US passport,” the young researcher wrote in a Facebook post, explaining that, “Once they took both my phone and the access PIN, they returned me to the holding area with the cots and other sleeping detainees until they finished copying my data.”

The episode, aside from the profiling it ostensibly involved, also put him in a fix with his employers, because he was required to protect access to the phone.

“I’m back home, and JPL has been running forensics on the phone to determine what CBP/homeland security might have taken, or whether they installed anything on the device,” he explained in the post, adding that he has also been working with JPL legal counsel and the lab has issued him a new phone and new phone number.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/indian-origin-nasa-scientist-detained-at-us-border-phone-confiscated/articleshow/57137624.cms

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Comment (1)

  1. K SHESHU BABU

    The detention of Indian born scientist of NASA shows the hatred of the US president against foreigners and blacks. His policies are hurting many Asian and African nations

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