CBP commissioner: 'Unacceptable' for agents to harass journalists entering the country

CBP commissioner: 'Unacceptable' for agents to harass journalists entering the country
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Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan on Tuesday called recent reports of customs agents harassing journalists returning to the country "unacceptable."

“Unequivocally let me say that any journalist that is stopped and harassed and treated improperly because they’re a journalist is absolutely unacceptable. Unequivocally," Morgan said during a briefing at the White House.

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He encouraged members of the media who feel they've been harassed or mishandled to report their experience to CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility or the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General.

The agency proactively reports incidents if they're made aware of them, he added.

"Here’s one thing we can say: We can disagree all we want … disrespect doesn’t mean disagreement," he said. "And there’s a little thing in the country called freedom of speech. Anything that we do that would impede that, we’re going to hold people accountable."

Morgan was asked during a briefing for a response to recent incidents in which members of the press have said on social media that they were harassed upon entering the country.

A reporter at military news website Defense One said last week that he was accused by a CBP agent of writing "propaganda" when he attempted to reenter the United States this week. The reporter said the agent held onto his passport as he asked about his work, only giving it back after he agreed his work was propaganda.

A British writer for Empire Magazine reported a similar experience in July, tweeting at the time that he was questioned by a CBP agent about whether he wrote or worked for major cable news networks including CNN and MSNBC that were "spreading lies to the American people."