The Oscar-winning documentarian, who directed Citizenfour, was detained and searched over 50 times, but the breaking-point was when the US Government refused to respond to her Freedom of Information Act request for the reasons for her harassment.
The harassment began with Poitras's 2006 documentary about the Iraq war, My Country, My Country. She has many electronic devices seized at the border, and was refused permission to take notes on her detention lest she use her pen as "a weapon."
In 2013, Poitras filed a Freedom of Information Act request to access any information about herself that the government used to determine that she was a danger to national security and worthy of intense scrutiny.
There is an immense backlog of unanswered FOIA requests across the government. Just this year, the number of unanswered FOIA requests swelled to over 200,000 — over 50 percent more than last year.
Poitras is being represented by lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group. "The well-documented difficulties Ms. Poitras experienced while traveling strongly suggest that she was improperly targeted by federal agencies as a result of her journalistic activities," EFF senior counsel David Sobel told the Intercept. "Those agencies are now attempting to conceal information that would shed light on tactics that appear to have been illegal. We are confident that the court will not condone the government's attempt to hide its misconduct under a veil of 'national security.'"
Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government to Find Out Why She Was Repeatedly Stopped at the Border [Jenna McLaughlin/The Intercept]
(Image: Laura Poitras 2014, Katy Scoggin, CC-BY)