Christine Von Der Haar has heard President Barack Obama and national security officials insist the U.S. government isn't spying on ordinary citizens.
Von Der Haar says in a federal lawsuit that she was illegally detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in 2012 at Indianapolis International Airport. The lawsuit says the detention occurred after government agents intercepted and read emails she had exchanged with a friend from Greece before he came to visit her in Indiana.
Von Der Haar, a lecturer in IU's sociology department, was detained at the airport after she accompanied her friend, Dimitris Papatheodoropoulos, to pick up computer equipment he had shipped to Indianapolis.
Her friend is a Greek national who has worked as a transportation manager for two Olympic Games and the 2011 Arab Games in Qatar.
The customs agents, the lawsuit says, asked the couple if they were planning to marry, then questioned each separately about email communications and the nature of their relationship.
During that questioning, Von Der Haar was confined in a guarded room for more than 20 minutes with no explanation of why the agents wanted to talk with her.Excellent reporting by Tim Evans, the type of reporting Indianapolis residents want to see from their daily newspaper.
The only way the federal officials could have known about some of the information they questioned Von Der Haar about, according to the lawsuit, was to have "surreptitiously monitored the communications" between the IU lecturer and her friend.
One of the customs agents, the lawsuit alleges, "admitted that employees of the United States had read email communications" between the two longtime friends.