SAN FRANCISCO INT’L AIRPORT (CBS SF) – A prosecutor with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said federal agents detained him and asked about if he joined a terrorist group after returning from a recent trip abroad.
In an op-ed in Friday’s edition of The New York Times, Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Bastian said he was detained by the Department of Homeland Security at San Francisco International Airport earlier this month. Bastian said he was returning from a trip to Armenia and Greece.
According to Bastian, the interrogator asked if he attempted to sneak into Turkey or Syria during his trip and if he joined groups such as ISIS.
Bastian, an Armenian-American whose family escaped the Lebanese Civil War, said the questions were “astoundingly ignorant.”
“As a descendant of the Armenian Genocide, a genocide perpetrated by Turks, there is absolutely no logical reason I would sneak into Turkey from Armenia (especially since Turkey has blockaded that border),” Bastian said. “Furthermore, as an Armenian, I am a Christian, and as Armenians in Syria and Iraq have experienced, meeting with jihadist groups would have led to my kidnapping and possible beheading.”
Bastian was let go after he revealed that he was a prosecutor with the DA’s office.
While the attorney said the detention was “well within the rules,” he condemned the use of racial profiling in borders, airports and other points of entry.
“I am not saying there should not be extensive security at airports. As someone in law enforcement, I believe wholeheartedly that there should be. But the current policy of detaining people at airports based on the way they look is not only unconstitutional, it also fails to make us safe,” he said.
KPIX 5 has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security and the District Attorney’s office for comment.