- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tourists crossing the U.S. border beware: A U.S. District Court judge just ruled that it’s perfectly within the confines of the Constitution for guards to search through and copy laptop computer files belonging to travelers — even without suspicion of wrongdoing.

The searches are rare, and “about a 10 in a million chance” of happening, the Judge Edward Korman wrote, in his ruling reported by United Press International. “[So] there is not a substantial risk” that someone’s personal laptop will be searched and seized at all.

Still, border guards have the right to do so, he said. And they don’t have to worry about proving a reasonable suspicions as the reason for exercising that right, UPI reported.

Case law clearly shows that “searches at our borders without probably cause and without a warrant are nonetheless ‘reasonable,’ ” Mr. Korman wrote.

The judge made the ruling in the District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, in dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a graduate student, Pascal Abidor, whose laptop was taken by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in May 2010 as he rode an Amtrak train from Montreal to New York. Mr. Abidor said officers also handcuffed and incarcerated him, subjecting him to several hours of questioning.

His laptop was returned 11 days later, UPI said.

He sued and was joined by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and by the National Press Photographers Association. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the case, and now says it’s mulling an appeal, UPI reported.

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