Australian author detained at US airport receives apology

Canberra, Feb 25 (IANS) An Australian author has received a written apology from the US after being wrongfully detained and insulted by immigration officials at the Los Angeles Airport, a media report said on Saturday.

Mem Fox, who was questioned by Customs and Border Protection officers for two hours earlier this month and agents appeared to have been given “turbocharged power” by an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump to “humiliate and insult” a room full of people they detained to check visas.

That executive order was eventually halted by Federal Courts and it was expected a new order would be signed this week, designed to avoid the confusion caused by the original.

“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” Fox told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday.

“I felt like I had been physically assaulted…They accused me of coming in on the wrong visa and they were totally wrong about that.”

Fox, whose books include classics such as Possum Magic and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, said she was questioned about her visa status, even though she had travelled to the US 116 times previously.

The author lodged a complaint with the Australian embassy in Washington, and later one with the US embassy in Canberra to which she received an emailed letter of apology, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said.

She said the treatment of others in the airport holding room, including Iranians, Taiwanese and a Scandinavian parent with a child, was just as poor, and all appeared to eventually have been released.