SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A mayor of a Northern California city said Homeland Security agents briefly detained him and seized his laptop and cellphone earlier this week at San Francisco International Airport.
Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva said Homeland Security officials seized the electronics Monday after he got off a flight from China. Silva said he was given no explanation for the search and seizure and the authorities have not returned his electronics.
“I am confident that any forensic search of my personal devices will never ever show illegal or inappropriate activities of any sort,” Silva said in a prepared statement.
Silva said that he was returning from a weeklong trip with other San Francisco Bay Area mayors sponsored by China Silicon Valley, a nonprofit organization that promotes investment between China and Silicon Valley.
Silva said that he was “briefly detained” and asked to turn over passwords to a laptop computer and cellphone.
“They indicated that this action to confiscate personal property at the airport was in fact routine and not unusual,” Silva said. “They promised to return my items within a few days.”
Silva said he hoped to retrieve his electronics Friday. Silva said the incident raises privacy issues. Law enforcement officials don’t need warrants to search people entering the United States.
“I don’t believe that any American would want any government agency to read through your emails, text messages, and social media without a warrant,” Silva said.
Officials with Homeland Security and the U.S Attorney’s office declined comment.
The first-term Republican is running for re-election.