Wednesday, 28 June 2017 11:51

Mozilla employee denied entry to US


An employee of Mozilla based in Sweden has been denied entry to the US to attend a meeting called by the foundation which is known for its Firefox browser and other open-source software.

Daniel Stenberg, who is also the author of the command-line tool curl, was told at the airport in Sweden that he could not check in for his flight because the ESTA (electronic system for travel authorisation) waiver he had obtained had been turned down.

It is not known if his being turned away has anything to do with the travel bans that were put in place by the Trump administration. After courts prevented the bans from being enforced, the Supreme Court recently allowed the ban to stand for citizens of six nations who had no connection to the US and also for refugees. The court is due to hear a challenge to the ban later in the year.

Gizmodo quoted Stenberg as saying: “The lady (at the airport check-in counter) saw something on her screen when she entered info about me."

He said she made a call and then someone called her back. "She waved me over and delivered me the message: I can’t go to the US on my ESTA because it has been denied."

A number of countries. including Australia, have a visa waiver arrangement with the US whereby a citizen of these countries can obtain a permission slip online which allows them to enter the US for a period not exceeding 90 days. Businessmen and journalists are not allowed to use this facility when they travel to the US for work.

The Mozilla Foundation has opposed the travel ban from the start. Initially, seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Somalia — were covered, but it now appears that Iraq has been removed from the list.

Mozilla’s chief business and legal officer Denelle Dixon told Gizmodo: “We are focused on providing support for our employees and we’re looking into ways to resolve and understand the circumstances. Currently, we do not believe the situation is related to the US Administration’s proposed travel ban or the recent Supreme Court ruling."

Stenberg said he could not think of any reason why he would not be allowed to enter the US. He was worried that he had been blocked from entering, and feared that it would come to haunt him in the future too.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said that 1.2 million people entered the US every day and about 700 were turned back. "Having an approved ESTA does [not] guarantee a foreign national free entry into the US All travellers including those coming from visa waiver countries must clear all 60 grounds of inadmissibility," the spokesperson said.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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