Anti-Olympic reporter denied entry into Canada
Andrew Weichel, ctvbc.ca
Published Sunday, February 7, 2010 8:11PM PST
A Chicago-based independent journalist says he was detained and questioned at the Vancouver airport on Saturday afternoon, denied a phone call or legal counsel and sent unceremoniously back to the U.S.
Martin Macias Jr. arrived at YVR at around 11:30 a.m. with his travelling partner Bob Quellos. Both are outspoken Olympic critics associated with No Games Chicago, a group that opposed the city's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The two were planning to meet up with local anti-Olympic crusader Chris Shaw and attend a number of Vancouver rallies and protests this week leading up to the start of the Games.
Macias never made it out of the airport.
Instead, the 20-year-old part-time reporter says he spent two and a half hours being interviewed by customs about his fellow protesters.
"They wanted to know more about the people who are organizing the conference, about who I was staying with, if I could contact them, if I knew what they were wearing," Macias said. "It was very, very strange."
Macias said his phone book was confiscated and inspected. One local Vancouver number, listed under "Support," was of particular interest.
"It is a number to the conference in case you're in the city, you need food, or you get questioned by police," Macias said. "They took that as a sign that I was coming here with the intention of getting into some kind of violent rally or protest."
Macias said he was accused of withholding information and given a choice: leave Canada voluntarily or be detained until he faced trial.
"It would be a week and a half," Macias said. "I have work, school, my family. I can't be here that long."
Authorities refused to pay for his ticket back to Chicago, Macias said, so he boarded a flight to Seattle instead.
A suspicious phone call
Meanwhile, Quellos had met with Shaw and both men were anxiously awaiting word from Macias. That's when Shaw received a phone call.
"Someone called Chris' phone," Quellos said. "It was a very brief conversation. They identified [themselves] as Martin."
The caller told Shaw about his "brutal" interrogation, and that he was asked "1000 questions." He then tried to arrange a meeting.
"We gave him an intersection to meet us at. I waited for two hours, but he didn't show up so we knew something was wrong," said Quellos.
Macias, however, says he never contacted either of them.
"I was never allowed to call anyone, I asked for legal counsel, no one," Macias said. "I spoke to Bob when I got to Seattle, and he said someone had called him and imitated my voice."
Sitting in a Seattle hotel room, Macias said he is not sure whether he will make another attempt to enter Canada.
"It was very intimidating, obviously," he said. "But I have a lot of options. There's plenty of things I could do."
A spokeswoman for Canada Border Services Agency wouldn't discuss the specific case because of privacy issues.
Pennie Libby says Canada's admissibility requirements will not change for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic games.
In an email, Libby said admissibility to Canada is considered on a case-by-case basis on facts presented by the applicant at the time of entry.
With files from The Canadian Press