Humiliating Deportation of Icelandic Tourist from US

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  • Posted on: 14 December 2007
  • By: susie dow

What follows is a HUGE story in Iceland. So far, the only English language publication to pick it up is Gulf Times which carries the English translation of the Agence France-Presse wire.

Reykjavik protests US treatment of Icelandic tourist

Iceland’s government said yesterday that it had summoned the US ambassador to Reykjavik to protest the treatment of an Icelandic tourist who says she was recently shackled and humiliated before being deported from JFK airport in New York.

Erla Ósk Arnardóttir, 33, arrived at the John F Kennedy International Airport last Sunday for a pre-holiday shopping trip in New York City, and was detained for having overstayed a tourist visa to the US by three weeks in 1995.

[...]

She also said she had been body-searched and submitted to hostile, aggressive and humiliating interrogations, and had been asked questions like “When did you have your last period?” and “Have you ever tried to commit suicide?”

Arnardottir’s account of her ordeal sparked outrage across Iceland, an Arctic island nation of some 300,000 people.
Yesterday Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrum Gisladottir summoned US Ambassador Carol Van Voorst to protest Arnardottir’s treatment and demand an apology, the foreign ministry said.

There's not much in English about this story. Iceland Review Online carries a brief summary. Two blogs, The Iceland Weather Report and Deep Muck Big Rake, picked it up. Both are worth a read but most especially The Iceland Weather Report as you'll get a good sense of public reaction. Needless to say, it's not good. The people of Iceland are outraged.

The following links are in Icelandic. Free online translation services (such as InterTran) are extremely limited at giving a good sense of what's being discussed but the general meaning should come through for those who are interested.

Erla Osk Arnardottir's Blog - has over 460 comments.

Yfirheyrð um tíðahring sinn - news story

Icelandic Television - in the first segment, Erla Ósk Arnardóttir is being interviewed. She is the woman with white hair sitting to the left.

Comments

In the comments on Erla Osk Arnardottir's Blog, there's some discussion of other similar confrontations entering the US and suspicion that the same security guards may be involved.

When I read your post......I wondered to myself if this hinky security guard had his own video going....... Crap like this makes me ill and is totally unacceptable.

Icelandic tourists that it you just don't mess with U.S. Immigration anymore. That woman should count her lucky stars that we didn't deport her to a country that tortures or turn her over to the CIA where she could have been waterboarded.

Cynical snark because unfortunately the United States has lost its way as a country with a system of justice and human rights. I feel like an alien in my own country.

Imagine what it must be like for people who aren't from the Great White Race. This is an incredible story. It must be a total shock for the people of such a loyal ally to discover how they can be treated just for getting off a plane. Send me your sick, your weary and oppressed... Hm.

Was recently ranked by the UN as first in the world for quality of life. They may be small, but they are also an exceedingly wealthy nation with two of the world's billionaire's from Iceland -- a country of only 300,000 people. A socialist nation, they also take care of each other.

Canada is equally as convenient with the same large box stores as the US and none of the headaches.

The Iceland Weather Report: More horror stories from the western frontier

Apparently, since this matter became public, the [Minister for Foreign Affairs] has received numerous calls from individuals who claim to have received the same sort of cantankerous welcome at JFK.

Iceland Review On-line: Iceland's Foreign Minister: US Should Apologize

Thórdís Björnsdóttir, a young mother who arrived at JFK airport with her eight-year-old daughter last November, told Morgunbladid that after five hours of interrogation she and her daughter were taken to a small dirty room with no bed where they had to stay for 15 hours before they were deported.

A certified translator, Gunnar Tómasson, has translated Erla Ósk Arnardóttir blog:

http://eggmann.blog.is/blog/eggmann/entry/389611/

How ridiculous to treat someone like that from Iceland and is simply here for vacation, i know far to many people here on visas from around the world and some have wanted to stay past it. I've told them they are much better off going back to their country then coming back next year for work or to visit then risk something like this happening. I have friends in Iceland who were outraged about this as everyone else was. I've even taken princess cruises there when possible or flown to see them and cant imagine what i was like to be treated like that.

I've been to Iceland and other areas with Norwegian cruise line and can't say enough about the people and how friendly they are i'm sure they could have sent someone else home that posed more a threat then that person.