Caught in the web of watch lists

Many travellers have already been caught on the many watch lists developed by the customs, immigration and transport agencies in cooperation with police, security and intelligence agencies on both sides of the border most often as a result of false positives. One single U.S.-based airline reports as many as 9,000 false positive every day.

As a result of having been singled out, a number of individuals have been forced to give up travel, while others have had their reputation tarnished and even lost their livelihood.

Here are some of their stories that they have agreed to share in the media or with us:

Victim of mistaken identity

A Montreal woman who was mistakenly arrested and jailed at the Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau airport in April 2009 was told to change her name to avoid further problems. [May 11, 2009 07:54 PM]

William Ayers

William Ayers, a professor of education at Chicago’s University of Illinois and a leader in educational reform, was denied entry into Canada on January 18, 2009 at Toronto Island’s airport apparently because of a conviction stemming from a 1969 anti-war demonstration. [Feb 17, 2009 04:01 PM]

Mike Miles

Wisconsin log cabin restorer Mike Miles is considered undesirable in Canada because of his long string of misdemeanor convictions for non-violent peace activism in the U.S., but last May he was allowed to enter Manitoba simply by paying $200. [Feb 17, 2009 03:55 PM]

José Santos

Langley resident José Santos shares the same name as a man wanted for murder in 25 U.S. states. Every time he travels to the U.S. he's detained and singled out for secondary interrogation. [Feb 17, 2009 03:29 PM]

Glenda Hutton

A 66-year-old former school secretary from Vancouver Island has had to shelve her retirement dream of travelling the world because her name is on a secret no-fly list. She has no criminal record, has never had any problems with the law but she can't get her name off the U.S. watch list. [Nov 26, 2008 11:02 AM]

Robert and James Kenny

The names of Senator Colin Kenny's sons - Robert, a Toronto Crown attorney and James, a student - are on a no-fly list. When their father asked the Transport minister to help, he was referred to a U.S. government website. [Jun 16, 2008 05:02 PM]

Ali SeifEnnasr

Ali SeifEnnasr travelled from Ottawa to Chicago on October 22, 2006 to attend a two-week training session before taking up a new job in Toronto with a U.S.-based employer, a business consulting firm. But the Tunisia-born Canadian never got to attend the training and in the process, lost his job. He was detained at the O’Hare airport by several FBI and Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security officials, put in a cell overnight and sent back to Canada the next day allegedly because he was a threat to national security. [Jun 11, 2008 03:49 PM]

Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright

Well-known U.S. peace activists Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin were denied entry to Canada on October 22, 2007 because their names were on an FBI crime database meant to track potential terrorists, fugitives and violent criminals. They were told they couldn’t enter Canada until they were “rehabilitated,” but seven months later after a New Democratic Party MP vouched for them they were allowed to speak at a peace conference in Vancouver. [Jun 11, 2008 03:42 PM]

Andrew Feldmar

Andrew Feldmar a 67-year old well-known Vancouver psychotherapist, was on his way to pick up a friend at the Seattle airport in August 2006 when he was stopped at the Peace Arch border station in Blaine, Washington. A U.S. Customs and Border protection guard typed his name into an Internet search engine, which turned up a 2001 article written by Mr. Feldmar about experimenting with LSD in the 1960s. [Jun 11, 2008 03:32 PM]

Dr. Munir El-Kassem

Dr. Munir El-Kassem, director of Clinics at the School of Dentistry at the University of Western in London, was detained and fingerprinted during a stopover at the Detroit airport on May 5, 2007 on his way to give a lecture at an interfaith conference in Milwaukee. The respected Muslim community leader, university chaplain and well-known advocate for interfaith dialogue, was questioned for four hours and asked whether he knew Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and whether he loved “God or Allah”. The whole ordeal left him shaken, angry and feeling dehumanized. [Jun 11, 2008 03:16 PM]

Alistair Butt

Alistair Butt is a name that appears on a watch list used by Canadian airlines. For at least two Canadian boys who share that name, travelling by air has become a nightmare. [Jun 11, 2008 03:11 PM]