Urgent Action Alert! School Of the Americas Watch Volunteer detained illegally.
Last night, at the start of an SOA Watch organizing tour, Hendrik Voss of SOA Watch/NE and Eric LeCompte of the SOA Watch national office were stopped at the Canadian border. After their car and belongings were searched and their FBI files checked, they were denied entry into the country. Coming back into the U.S. border crossing, Hendrik, a German national, was detained by immigration officials. He is now in a county jail awaiting transport to an INS detention facility in Seattle and faces possible deportation. See below for a narrative account and more details.
It is vitally important that we act immediately. Hendrik is one of hundreds of immigrants being detained right now without having committed any crime. We cannot allow this erosion of civil liberties to continue unchecked. For two years, Hendrik has worked tirelessly as a full-time volunteer for SOA Watch and SOA Watch NE. He is now being held as a political prisoner for his work in solidarity with the people of Latin America. Here's how you can help:
German Consulate General
1960 Jackson Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tel.: (415) 775-1061
Fax: (415) 775-0187
Call, e-mail, send a fax, or better yet do all three. Tell the consulate that Hendrik Voss, a German citizen is being detained illegally and urge them to render all available services to him. Spread the word broadly and ask others to do the same. If you have any contacts in Germany, calls from German citizens would be especially helpful. The consulate opens for business soon. If we can flood their phone, fax and e-mail lines we may be able to stop this. Watch the SOA Watch website (http://www.soaw.org/home.html) for updates.
October 10th, 3:00 AM pt
Hendrik Voss, a German citizen and volunteer for SOA Watch/NE and former volunteer for the SOA Watch national office, is in the custody of the US Border Patrol tonight. Hendrik was traveling with Eric LeCompte, SOA Watch Outreach Director, as the two were offering presentations on Colombia and nonviolence training's for SOA Watch groups in British Colombia, Canada during the next few days. They were starting the first leg of a West Coast tour today that included nonviolence trainings up the coast from San Francisco to Victoria Island, Canada.
Upon entering Canadian immigration services at the Patterson station north of Spokane, the two were detained. They had their car and all belongings thoroughly searched jointly by Canadian immigrations official and a US immigration officer. Canadian and US immigration officials spent a great deal of time looking through SOA Watch materials.
According to Canadian Immigration officials, Canadian Immigration has access to the FBI database and were able to produce Eric's arrest record and other information about him available in his FBI file. After being detained for three hours of searching and interrogation they told Eric he would not be admitted to Canada because of an arrest in 1995 where he was protesting the fingerprinting of welfare recipients in Rochester, New York. Eric was also told that part of the reason that he would not be admitted to Canada is because they suspect that he would encourage Canadians to protest. Eric was told that he should not return to Canada at all in the future, and if he does he will be immediately arrested. Hendrik was told by Canadian officials that he could not enter Canada now because he didn't have enough money on him. If Hendrik would go get more money he would be given entry into Canada.
Hendrik and Eric turned back and stopped at the US immigration office as instructed. US immigration held Hendrik and Eric and took Hendrik in the back for interrogation. Hendrik was interrogated by a US Border Patrol Agent and US immigration official. During his interrogation the US immigration officials went through Hendrik's journal. At one point, US Border Patrol Agent, B.C. Rowley howled, "So you've been protesting the World Trade Organization," and slammed the door to enclose Hendrik in the interrogation room. After further interrogation behind closed doors, officials emerged to let Eric know he was free to leave although they would keep Hendrik in custody and seek to deport him.
Currently, Hendrik is being held in a county jail in Colville, Washington. According to Hendrik, US Border Patrol Agents have been copying the contents of his journal. He will transported to a Spokane Border Patrol agency early Wednesday morning, October 10th. Then he will be moved to Seattle for his hearing.
Eric spoke with Hendrik tonight and Hendrik is in good spirits. Hendrik has maintained a sense of control and is not answering questions of the immigration authority until he sees an immigration lawyer.