For the past six years, Laura Poitras has always had a homecoming party.
Each time the award-winning video journalist has attempted to re-enter the United States, border patrol has detained her, according to a lawsuit she filed against the United States government on Monday. That’s more than 50 occasions in total.
Why? That’s her question, too. Poitras, creator of the Oscar-, Pulitzer-, and Academy Award-winning documentary Citizenfour—which chronicles the exploits of the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—desires to know why security agents repeatedly harassed her during that period when she was working on her films.
Apparently, she had been told during one of many hours-long detainments that her name appeared on a national security threat database. After filing Freedom of Information Act requests for her records, she received few clarifying details. So she’s taking legal action.
Poitras will take the departments of justice and homeland security, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to court. She has demanded access to the surveillance records that pertain to her.
“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law,” Poitras said in a statement. “This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy. I am also filing this suit in support of the countless other less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders. We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”