Andreas Gal, the Apple employee involved in a controversial US Customs and Border Protection detainment, is speaking out about his experience. In an interview with ABC News, Gal elaborated on why he feels he was targeted and offered more details on the interaction.
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Earlier this week, the ACLU revealed that it was filling a complaint alleging that border control officers violated the constitutional rights of Gal. The Apple employee was returning from a business trip to Sweden in November when he was detained at the San Francisco International Airport. During that detainment, border control agents allegedly demanded that Gal provide them access to his Apple-issued iPhone XS and MacBook.
Speaking to ABC News, Gal rehashed the experience:
“They wanted to see my itinerary on my smartphone. I offered to email them my itinerary and they insisted on seeing it on my smartphone. This was very alarming for me. These are not regular consumer devices. These are special devices used by Apple software and hardware engineers.
That seemed to aggravate these customs agents and they started getting very upset with me and they said they had the right to access my devices and I had to turn over my passport. I told them I wanted to talk to an attorney and my employer so I could understand my responsibilities with regard to this NDA.”
Gal went on to say that he was told by the CBP agents that even as a U.S. citizen, he did not have rights to an attorney at the border. In response to Gal’s requests for an attorney, agents told him that they would keep his devices in the meantime. Gal told them that he didn’t “consent to it” but “would comply.”
Ultimately, Gal was released and got to keep his devices. Returning home from his next international trip, however, he noted that his boarding pass had the code “SSSS” on it, indicating he would be subject to a secondary security screening.
In the ABC News interview, Gal suggested that he may have been targeted because of his outspoken opinion of President Trump:
“Why me? I’m a boring, middle-aged white male software executive. I’m very average. It’s not something I would have expected to experience, to get yelled at by three armed men just because I return home,” Gal said.
“In the past two years I’ve been very outspoken on the Trump administration’s policies on social media, particularly with respect to Customs and Border Protection and immigration,” said Gal.
In a statement to ABC News, a CBP spokesperson said they couldn’t comment on Gal’s situation specifically. The spokesperson noted, however, that “all travelers arriving to the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection” that may include “computers, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music and other media players and any other electronic or digital devices.”
Read Gal’s full interview with ABC News here.