Laptop seizure at O'Hare, subject of ACLU lawsuit

May 13, 2011

(Flickr/file)

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security in relation to a laptop seizure at O'Hare International Airport.

The lawsuit is on behalf of individual David House, who supports the release of US Army Private Bradley Manning. Manning's accused of leaking a graphic video to Wikileaks that shows US soldiers apparently killing Iraqis and civilians, including Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen.
 
When House was re-entering the US from a vacation in Mexico this past November, he says customs officials, members of the Department for Homeland Security, and an FBI agent questioned him and seized all of his electronics. The Boston-based computer scientist says he did not receive his laptop back for 45 days.

House said, "The loss of the computer was the most devastating thing about it. I had just graduated from college, just in my first job in the workforce. And well if if the US government was trying to disrupt my activities, they definitely succeeded in doing so. It took me a long time to recover from that."

House says this seizure is just part of a broader government campaign of intimidation against people who support Bradley Manning. He alleges a similar electronics seizure event happened to another Manning supporter traveling between the US and Canada.

The ACLU lawsuit on House's behalf contests his 1st and 4th amendment rights were violated.  

The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.