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Viewing cable 07REYKJAVIK337, ICELAND MEDIA ROUNDUP: MEDIA FIRESTORM OVER DEPORTATION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07REYKJAVIK337 2007-12-14 13:01 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRK #0337 3481312
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141312Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3512
INFO RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN 0359
RHMFIUU/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAORD/BICE ASAC JFK NEW YORK NY
RHMFIUU/HQ BICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000337 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FUR EUR/PPD AND EUR/NB; CA/VO/P AND CA/VO/F/P 
COPENHAGEN FOR DHS: KLUGMAN 
 
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: CVIS KHLS PREL KPAO IC
SUBJECT: ICELAND MEDIA ROUNDUP: MEDIA FIRESTORM OVER DEPORTATION 
CASE BADLY DAMAGES US IMAGE 
 
 
1.  Summary:  The media storm over the deportation of Erla Osk 
Arnadottir continues on television, radio, and in the newspapers. 
Arnadottir's account of being shackled and jailed in New Jersey 
before being deported for her overstay on the visa waiver program in 
1995 has created a media frenzy.  End summary. 
 
2.  On December 12 the Icelandic media picked up the story of Erla 
Osk Arnadottir's detention and deportation from the U.S. for having 
overstayed on the visa waiver program in 1995.  News stories and 
editorials appeared in the newspapers on December 13.  A scathing 
editorial in Morgunbladid entitled "Police State?" stated "Countries 
that allow themselves to treat visitors like Erla Osk the way in 
which she describes are on a fast track to becoming a police state. 
It is incomprehensible to think that an Icelandic citizen has ever 
been treated the way Erla Osk describes, not even in former 
communist or fascist countries."  The editorial also states that the 
number of Icelandic travelers to the U.S. will decline dramatically 
because, "Who wants to endure being shackled hand and foot and 
paraded through the airport on route to the boarding gate?" 
 
3.  The reporting and commentary on the story was highlighted on 
television and radio stations last night (December 13) and continues 
to be prominently featured in all newspapers today (December 14). 
 
4.  The story led prime time news coverage on all the television 
stations.  The widely respected evening newsmagazine program, 
Kastljos, had an in-depth interview with Erla Osk Arnardottir.  She 
described her treatment in detail, and when asked if she wanted to 
return to the US said, "not anytime soon." 
 
5.  The December 14 headlines in all three newspapers were very 
similar - "Humiliating Treatment of Erla Osk."  All media reported 
that the MFA summoned the US Ambassador to discuss Erla Osk's case, 
and considers this a very serious issue.  The Minister for Foreign 
Affairs told the Ambassador that US authorities owe Erla an apology. 
 Morgunbladid reported that the Ambassador said that the USG is 
taking the issue seriously, is investigating the matter thoroughly, 
and will report back to the MFA with its findings.  In addition, the 
papers reported new allegations of mistreatment of an Icelandic 
traveler to the US at the border. 
 
6.  Comment:  The media focus is on the "humiliating and degrading" 
treatment, especially the traveler being shackled and chained. The 
incident has raised concern among the general public that if this 
could happen to someone like Erla Osk Arnadottir, then it could 
happen to me.  The public sentiment is captured in the concluding 
line of an op-ed contributor in the newspaper "24", "If I risk 
traveling to the US to visit my friends and family, will I be 
subject to the same treatment at the boarder as Erla Osk 
Arnadottir?"  Icelanders are outraged that Erla Osk Arnadottir was 
treated as a dangerous prisoner for making, in their view, a "minor 
mistake." End Comment.