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Homeland Security detains US journalist returning from Beirut

Middle East correspondent Maria Abi-Habib said she was detained and asked to hand over her cellphones at Los Angeles International Airport

Published: Updated:

The US Department of Homeland Security has been under recent controversy for detaining a US journalist after she returned from Lebanon.

Maria Abi-Habib, a Middle East correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, said she was detained and asked to hand over her cellphones at Los Angeles International Airport last week.

In a lengthy Facebook statement posted on Thursday, Habib described how she was met by a homeland security officer while waiting going through immigration control after her flight from Beirut.

In her post, Habib explained how the officer escorted her to “special sections of the airport” and began to question her and attempted to confiscate her phones.

According to Habib, the officer refused to specify why she wanted to collect her phones. When Habib refused to hand over her phones, the officer accused her of collecting intelligence for other governments.

"Did you just admit you collect information for foreign governments?" the officer said, in what Habib described as a hostile tone.

However, Habib explained to the officer that the phones were the official property of the Wall Street Journal and that she would have to contact them to take them. The officer then reportedly accused her of not cooperating and “hindering the investigation.”

“She said she had to speak to her supervisor about my lack of cooperation and would return,” Habib said.

The female officer returned 30 minutes later and told Habib she was free to go.

Shortly before her detention, Habib had published a piece about dozens of US officials calling on Obama to launch targeted airstrikes against the regime in Syria.