Security officials briefly detained the mayor of Stockton on his way home from China and seized his laptop and cell phone at San Francisco International Airport, which he called "intrusive."
Mayor Anthony Silva said Homeland Security officials seized the electronics Monday after he got off a flight from China at San Francisco International Airport. Silva told NBC affiliate KCRA that he was given no explanation for the search and seizure and the authorities have not returned his electronics. They did not have a warrant. They gave him no explanation. He was not arrested.
"It’s sort of intrusive, and so you would think that you would need a warrant for that," Silva told NBC affiliate KCRA on Thursday. He said the agents demanded that he give them access to his laptop and cell phone. Silva said the agents characterized the incident as a routine search.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Lauren Horwood would not confirm or deny whether Silva was stopped Monday, whether his electronic gear was seized or whether agents had a warrant.
Silva said he went to China Saturday for a mayor’s conference in order to promote “good will” between the U.S. and China. When he landed at San Francisco International Airport Monday, Silva said the agents took his electronic items and were “persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices.”
What most bothers Silva is the privacy issues the warrantless search raised. And he hinted that racial profiling might also be at work. He released a statement, which reads in part:
“I think the American people should be extremely concerned about their personal rights and privacy. As I was being searched at the airport, there was a Latino couple to my left and an Asian couple to my right also being aggressively searched. I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the free."
“I don’t believe that any American would want any government agency to read through your e-mails, text messages, and social media without a warrant."
“I am confident that any forensic search of my personal devices will never ever show illegal or inappropriate activities of any sort."
Silva said he and his attorney plan on meeting with Homeland Security officials Friday.