Finnish folk band find a rude airport welcome


Ryan Johnson says:

The members of Lännen-Jukka, an Finnish folk band playing finnish-american folk tunes and headed by Finnish pop legend J. Karjalainen were detained in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for suspicion of either sneaking drugs in or attempting to seek work illegally. Bored security agents strip searched one of the members, and refused to actually listen to the band members' own account of why they were there.

From Twin Cities Daily Planet:

Perhaps the most damning comment on the incident was delivered by [J. Karjalainen] who was strip-searched. On a couple of occasions prior to 1991, he was detained by the KGB and interrogated. Compared to the ICE agents here in the Twin Cities, the KGB operatives, he says, "at least acted like human beings. Not a bunch of animals."

What's more, their passports now show permanent evidence of "DENIED ENTRY" that was hastily crossed out in pen. Sounds like it will be tough for these folks to travel in the future — how many times will they have to explain the situation?

"It was almost three hours of screaming, door-slamming and accusations, according to the report I received," said Marianne Wargelin, honorary Finnish consul for the Dakotas and most of Minnesota, which has the second largest Finnish-American population in the nation.

Erkki Maattanen, a filmmaker for Finnish Public Television who accompanied the musicians on the September trip, said his questioners seemed to think the entourage was smuggling drugs or intending to work without a permit. "I kept trying to tell them why we were here, but they'd just yell, 'Shut up!"' he said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the airport declined to comment, referring questions to regional press officer Brett Sturgeon.

Sturgeon said such behavior, if it occurred, would run contrary to the agency's policy that travelers must be treated in a professional manner. The complaint has not yet arrived at the Chicago regional office, but when it does, it will be fully investigated, he said.