These days being the former head of a stalwart US ally is no guarantee that you’ll get a quick pass through official screeners at American airports.
Kjell Magne Bondevik, the former Norwegian prime minister from 1997 to 2000 and 2001 to 2005, got held at Washington Dulles International Airport on Jan. 31 after US Customs and Border Protection agents spotted an Iranian visa on his passport.
The passport also stated “Former prime minister of Norway,” and Bondevik has sat across from a couple of US presidents in the White House, but that didn’t exempt him from being placed in a holding room for 40 minutes. He was later questioned for 20 minutes about the Iranian trip, which he took in 2014 to attend a conference on human rights. Bondevik is the president of the Oslo Center, a foundation that promotes world peace and democracy.
An unhappy Bondevik told ABC’s Washington, DC affiliate that he was “surprised” and “provoked” by the treatment he received. ”What will the reputation of the US be if this happens not only to me, but also to other international leaders?” asked Bondevik, who was in the US to attend the National Prayer Breakfast.
It looks like yet another international blunder for US president Donald Trump, who reportedly hung up on Australia’s prime minister during a diplomatic call on Jan. 28, and joked a day earlier with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto about deploying troops to handle the “bad hombres down there.”
The Bondevik detention is apparently linked to a policy created under former president Barack Obama that requires citizens from nations who would normally not need a visa to enter the US to have one if they’ve visited one of seven countries, including Iran. (Those are the same countries included in Trump’s travel ban.)
Regardless of who came up with the policy, a simple Google search is all it takes to determine that Bondevik is not a credible terrorism threat.