For Immediate Release: October 2nd, 2007
Contact:  Medea Benjamin (415) 235-6517 CODEPINK
Ann Wright (808)741-1141
John Curr NYCLU (716)-863-4035


US Peace Activists Challenge Canadian Border Guards

Test whether they will be denied entry into Canada

US peace activists Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, both of whom were harassed at the border in August, will travel to the Canadian border crossing near Buffalo to attend a conference sponsored by a Canadian peace coalition in Toronto. In the process they will test whether the Canadian government has a policy of denying entry to peaceful activists.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 1pm
WHERE: NYCLU office, 712 Main St,. Buffalo, New York and afterwards at the Canadian-US border
WHO: Medea Benjamin, Cofounder of CODEPINK Women for Peace and Global Exchange and Ann Wright, Retired US Army Colonel and US diplomat who resigned in opposition to the war on Iraq.
WHAT:  
Ms. Benjamin and Colonel Wright, invited to speak at a peace conference in Toronto on October 3, were both harassed at the Canadian border in August 2007. As a result of arrests at peaceful protests against the Iraq war, their names appeared on a criminal list (National Crime Information Center database) provided to the Canadian government by the FBI. Both were eventually granted entry (Wright had to get a $200 temporary permit), but were told that in the future they must apply for "criminal rehabilitation." This cumbersome process includes the provision of court record of convictions, court transcripts and the arresting officer's report, official proof of termination of the sentence, written travel permission from the court and probation officer; three statements of evidence of rehabilitation, a police certificate issued by the FBI, and a $200 processing fee.

 "The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies," says Colonel Wright, who was also Deputy US Ambassador in four countries. "The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country."

"It's outrageous for Canadian border guards to harass peacemakers for protesting a criminal, illegal war," says Benjamin. "No other country in the world is doing this. It looks like we are seeing the ominous results of the newly signed US-Canada Partnership for Prosperity and Security."

Four members of the Canadian Parliament--Peggy Nash, Libby Davies, Paul Dewar and Peter Julian--have expressed concern that Canada's immigration policies now seem to be driven by the Bush administration. They are closely watching how the two well-respected US activists will be treated at the border on Wednesday.

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