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Muslim woman sues US border agents over seized iPhone

Rejhane Lazoja was stopped at Newark airport, New Jersey, after returning from a trip to Switzerland along with her daughter on February on 26th February 2018.

After using an automated Passport Control kiosk, customs officers held Lazoja and questioned her, Her iPhone was seized by customs officers after she refused to unlock it for them. “Since there was no stated reason for me to unlock my iPhone, I refused,” she said, in an affidavit.

The lawsuit states that border agents took a copy of the data on her smartphone and failed to say whether it had been deleted and whether that data had been shared with any other agencies. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) kept the phone for about 130 days before returning it to her.

The smartphone contained photographs of Ms Lazoja “in a state of undress”, as well as private messages from her lawyer.

“Ms Lazoja is a Muslim woman and wears a hijab in accordance with her religious beliefs. Pursuant to her sincerely held beliefs, and she cannot be seen in a state of undress by men who are not family members,” the documents state.

“Neither was there any probable cause, nor a warrant [to search the phone]. Therefore, the search and seizure of Ms Lazoja’s property violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment,” the filing says.

The case will be heard in a New Jersey US district court.

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