Former Norway PM held at Washington airport over Iran visit

A former Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa who served as Norway prime minister for two terms has said he was held and questioned at Washington Dulles airport because of a visit to Iran three years ago, the Guardian has reported.

Mr Kjell Magne Bondevik served as prime minister of Norway from 1997-2000 and 2001-05.

In an interview with US-based ABC7, Mr Bondevik said he was stopped at the airport, ordered to wait for 40 minutes, before being questioned for another 20 minutes about his trip to Iran, which he had taken to speak at a human rights conference, the Guardian report said.

He had taken the 2014 trip to speak at a human rights conference, it added.

At the time he was stopped, Mr Bondevik said, his passport also clearly indicated that he was the former PM of Norway.

“I was surprised, and I was provoked,” he said. “What will the reputation of the US be if this happens not only to me, but also to other international leaders?”

Mr Bondevik, who is also the president of the human rights organisation Oslo Centre, was chosen as the Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa in 2006.

He was selected to the post by former United Nations Secretary General, Ghanaian Kofi Annan.

“Of course I fully understand the fear of letting terrorists come into this country,” Mr Bondevik told ABC7 of his ordeal. “It should be enough when they found that I have a diplomatic passport, [that I’m a] former prime minister.

“That should be enough for them to understand that I don’t represent any problem or threat to this country and [to] let me go immediately, but they didn’t.

The incident comes a week after US President Donald Trump temporarily suspended refugees and banned immigrants of seven pre-dominantly Muslim countries.

The seven are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Sudan and Somalia.

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