Sydney airport detains software developer Nathan Hague, seize devices, crack passwords, grab his files: Reports

British-Australian I.T. developer Nathan Hague was traveling through Australia's Sydney airport when authorities forcibly detained him and seized his devices, according to reports. Hague says his laptop password was cracked, and his digital files were accessed by Border Force officers.

He also believes software was installed on his phone, but the Australian Border Force said previously that "no software was put onto the mobile device".

Privacy advocates say the incident "is a worrying development," the Guardian reports.


"I don't have anything to hide, but I value my privacy," Hague said. "So I asked them, if you're OK to do the bomb inspection in front of me, you're OK to go through my bags in front of me, why do you have to take my devices out of my sight? What are you going to do with them?"

Hague said he asked the officers whether his files would be copied, and if so, what they would be using the files for. He said the officers refused to answer those questions, or explain what the ABF's data retention policy was, or detail how long the files would be kept.

The ABF acknowledged that Hague's devices were examined, but declined to comment on whether the files had been copied.

"Officers may question travellers and examine goods if they suspect the person may be of interest for immigration, customs, biosecurity, health, law-enforcement or national security reasons," said a spokesperson for the ABF.

[PHOTO: Sydney International Airport]