Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Guyana: US silent on seizure of cellphone

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Georgetown – Immigration officials in the United States have not given an explanation after a mobile phone belonging to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mae Toussaint Jr-Thomas, was seized.

The permanent secretary was travelling through the United States en route to China.

In the aftermath of the incident, the permanent secretary in Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elisabeth Harper, sought an explanation but was told that nothing could be provided.

“We do not have any specific information to share,” US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Adrienne Galanek told Harper on Friday in response to an enquiry.

However, the American Embassy’s correspondence merely reproduced standard CBP reasons for conducting secondary checks on all incoming foreigners and American citizens.

“If CBP officers at a port of entry need more information to determine your admissibility into the US; you may be directed to an interview area known as secondary inspection,” the document said.

The American Embassy advised the Guyana government that CBP agents could ask detailed information about the purpose for visiting the US, travel history and they and their belongings could be searched thoroughly.

“Such inspections may include a search of all electronic information stored on your laptop, cell phone and other electronic device.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with Demerara Waves Online News, a senior Guyana government official said the United States is not obligated to offer an explanation concerning the seizure of the phone.

“If they wish to, they don’t share. It is not something that they are legally or statutorily required to do. It is a courtesy,” the official said.

The official told the online news outlet that the Guyana government was not formally notified of the incident and so the government would await the return of the permanent secretary.

According to Demerara Waves Online News, the permanent secretary’s mobile phone could potentially contain sensitive national security information as well as communication with top government and ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) officials, as she is the most senior civil servant responsible for police, immigration, prisons, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit and the Registry of Births and Deaths. (CMC)

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