Former North Carolina police chief detained at JFK Airport for more than an hour

Nicole Rojas
International Business Times

A former North Carolina police chief claims he was detained for 90 minutes at John F Kennedy International Airport on 13 March on his return trip from Paris. Hassan Aden, a US citizen and former Greenville police chief, called his detention "unreasonable".

Aden told The Associated Press that he was detained for over an hour as he made his way home from a trip to Paris for his mother's 80th birthday. The law enforcement consultant described the ordeal in a lengthy Facebook post in which he describes being told that his name was used as an alias by someone on a watch list.

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A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer reportedly told Aden that his information would be sent to another agency to "de-conflict and clear me". During his detainment, Aden said "at least 25" foreign nationals were brought in and quickly released.

After complaining, Aden was told that he was not being detained. However, he was not allowed to leave, did not have access to his mobile phone, had his movements restricted and his passport was being withheld.

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"When it goes to 90 minutes with no phone ... and you can't move around, it seems more than an investigation to check your passport," Aden told the AP. "It begins to feel like you are in custody."

Aden blasted the officer who told him he was not being detained, arguing the officer had an "ignorance of the law and the Fourth Amendment" that should disqualify him as an officer with CBP. "I certainly was not free to leave," he said.

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After another officer took interest in his case, Aden says he was allowed to leave and continue on to his connecting flight to Washington DC. However, the incident left Aden uneasy, he said in his Facebook post.

"This experience has left me feeling vulnerable and unsure of the future of a country that was once great and that I proudly called my own. This experience makes me question if this is indeed home," he wrote. "My freedoms were restricted, and I cannot be sure it won't happen again, and that it won't happen to my family, my children, the next time we travel abroad. This country now feels cold, unwelcoming, and in the beginning stages of a country that is isolating itself from the rest of the world — and its own people — in an unprecedented fashion. High levels of hate and injustice have been felt in vulnerable communities for decades — it is now hitting the rest of America."

According to the AP, 52-year-old Aden became a naturalised US citizen at the age of 10 when he was an Italian citizen. Aden worked in the police department in Alexandria, Virginia for nearly 25 years and then served as the police chief in Greenville for around two years. He now runs a consulting firm that counts the US Justice Department as one of its clients.

The former police chief's detainment comes on the heels of President Donald Trump's second attempt to institute a travel ban, which was signed on 6 March and was set to take effect on 16 March. The revised travel ban was the administration's answer to the judicial defeat of the first travel ban signed in January. It was effectively frozen hours before it was set to take effect by a federal judge in Hawaii.

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