STOCKTON (CBS13) — The following is Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva’s statement on his detainment at San Francisco International Airport on Monday and the seizure of his electronic devices after a trip to China.
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My name is Anthony R. Silva, and I am the Mayor of Stockton, California.
On Saturday September 28 (sic), 2015 I attended a Mayor’s Conference to China to promote “good will” between the China and the United States. The trip was hosted and sponsored by China Silicon Valley and the primary goal was to promote our Cities and investment opportunities. I had a wonderful experience on this trip. Upon my return on Monday September 28, 2015, I was briefly detained by the Department of Homeland Security. They searched my belongings. A few minutes later, (2) DHS agents confiscated all my electronic devices including my personal cell phone. Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property. In addition they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices. Although they were reluctant at first to present their badge and credentials; they eventually showed me their identification and gave me a business card. They indicated that this action to confiscate personal property at the airport was in fact routine and not unusual. They promised to return my items within a few days. They also mentioned that I had no right for a lawyer to be present and being a United States Citizen did not entitle me to rights that I probably thought.
My lawyer contacted immediately contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento and was told “We can neither confirm or deny if we have the Mayor’s possessions.”
“I have a profound respect for the efforts of the United States government to protect our borders and ensure our safety and security. I am happy to cooperate and comply with these inspection procedures if they are in fact routine and legal.”
“I think the American People should be extremely concerned about their personal rights and privacy. As I was being searched at the airport, there was a Latino couple to my left, and an Asian couple to my right also being aggressively searched. I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the Free.”
“I don’t believe that any American would want any government agency to read through your e-mails, text messages, and social media without a warrant.”
“I am confident that any forensic search of my personal devices will never ever show illegal or inappropriate activities of any sort.”
I am deeply concerned about the recent allegations made toward our government and a congressman who was targeted and embarrassed by a government agency; and I would hope that these sorts of allegations were not true.
I am pleased to cooperate in any way I can and get my property returned.
The City of Stockton has come a long way in the past 2 years and I look forward to continue fighting to make my City a better place to live, work, and raise a family.