Mind Those Flashcards

Student files lawsuit for TSA detention

It's not just mystery liquids and box cutters that’ll get you in trouble with the TSA these days. A Pomona College student claims he was detained by TSA employees for carrying Arabic-English flashcards at a Philadelphia airport.

Nicholas George, 22, a senior majoring in physics and Middle Eastern studies, claims in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that he was returning from Philadelphia to California last August when he was chosen for extra security screening at Philadelphia International Airport.

During the screening, George emptied his pockets, revealing the flashcards.

The suit, filed against the TSA, the FBI, and the Philadelphia Police Department, alleges that the student was detained for half an hour before questioning by a TSA supervisor, who asked if George knew who committed the 9/11 terror attacks.

George responded, "Osama bin Laden."

According to the complaint, the supervisor then asked, "Do you know what language he spoke?"

"Arabic," George replied.


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Holding up the flashcards, the supervisor inquired, "Do you see why these cards are suspicious?"

George was later handcuffed and held for nearly five hours during which he was questioned by FBI agents, who eventually decided that he was "not a real threat," according to the suit.

In statement released by the ACLU, George said, "No one should be treated like a criminal for simply learning one of the most widely spoken languages in the world."

A TSA spokesperson had no comment on the pending lawsuit.

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