Filmmaker Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government For Ignored FOIA Request


After being detained more than 50 times at both foreign and domestic airports, Academy Award winning filmmaker Laura Poitras is suing the United States government.

According to The Intercept, the filmmaker responsible for CITIZENFOUR filed this lawsuit after her Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for “documents pertaining to her systemic targeting” garnered no response. Poitras demands reports on her tracking between the years 2006 and 2012, when she was designated the “highest threat” level by the Department of Homeland Security. Poitras has no criminal record.

The searches and interrogations began when she was filming My Country, My Country, a documentary on the Iraq War told from the vantage point of an Iraqi doctor. From The Intercept:

“[Poitras] described the government’s inspection and forceful seizure of her notebooks, laptop, cell phone and other personal items as ‘shameful’…On one occasion, security officers at the airport refused to allow her to take notes on her interrogation, arguing that her pen could be used as a weapon.”

The searches and seizures finally halted when Glenn Greenwald wrote about the harassment being inflicted upon her. A group of filmmakers also rallied to petition against this surveillance.

Poitras’s pushback against government monitoring inspired Edward Snowden to give her, as well as Greenwald, the leaked NSA documents that led to his self-imposed exile. CITIZENFOUR tells the story of their meetings with Snowden. In 2014 it won an Academy Award.

As a whole, the United States public has become more attuned to the ways they may be monitored without their knowledge. Already this year the government has failed to answer over 200,000 FOIA requests. Poitras hopes her lawsuit for aid those who do not possess her platform, but “are also subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders.”

You can read Poitras’s official complaint here.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via Getty.

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