A former Prime Minister of Norway was detained and questioned for an hour at the Dulles airport on Tuesday because his passport showed that he had visited Iran in 2014.
Kjell Magne Bondevik told ABC7 news that he was not allowed to leave after the customs agent spotted a visa to Iran stamped in his passport. He served as Prime Minister of Norway twice - from 1997 to 2000 and 2001 to 2005.
“I was surprised and I was provoked. Of course I fully understand the fear of letting terrorists come into this country,” said Bondevik, adding that it should have been obvious that he poses no threat as a terrorist to the United States. Even his passport says that he is the former PM of Norway, a US ally.
Bondevik was told that he was not being detained because of President Donald Trump’s recently-imposed travel ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.
A 2015 law signed by Obama places restrictions on citizens even from Norway, one of the countries that falls under the US Visa Waiver Program. However, exceptions are made to people who travelled to one of the seven countries on behalf of international organisations.
But he says this is not his first trip to the States since his visit to Iran and yet it was the first time he was subjected to questioning. Bondevik is president of a human rights organization called The Oslo Center and in 2014 he went to Iran to speak at a human rights conference there.
Bondevik also said that he had contacted the US Embassy in Oslo prior to his trip and was told that all he would need to enter the States is his passport and electronic travel authorization (called ESTA).
“What reputation do you want to make of the US abroad,” he told ABC7 news. He was visiting the US for the National Prayer Breakfast, an event attended by Trump.
This report comes a day after the terse phone conversation between Trump and Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia, another staunch US ally. T he Washington Post reported that Trump “blasted” Turnbull when the latter brought up the issue of honouring the Obama administration’s undertaking to take in 1,250 refugees who are in Australia’s offshore detention centres.