Nigerian man facing charges after phone seized at US border
NEWPORT, Vt. (AP) — A Nigerian man living in Rhode Island is facing charges in Vermont after U.S. agents seized his phone at the Canadian border and he refused to leave the port of entry without it.
The Caledonian Record reports 50-year-old Adegbuyi Adeyemi, of Providence, appeared in Vermont court Thursday, a day after he was arrested at the Derby Line port of entry from Canada.
“It seems like this whole thing kind of spun out of control,” Vermont Superior Court Judge Scot Kline said during Thursday’s court hearing in which Adeyemi pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing and assault on a police officer.
Kline said he had no control over the action of federal agents.
Adeyemi’s attorney Public Defender Jill Jourdan said the conflict erupted when the U.S. Homeland Security agents seized his cellphone and refused to return it. She said he had his whole life on the phone, with no other way to access the phone numbers of friends and family.
“Most people’s lives are in their phone,” Jourdan said in court.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman was unavailable Friday due to the federal government shutdown.
The incident began Wednesday when Adeyemi tried to enter Canada, but was turned back. After he was questioned by U.S. border agents he was told he was free to go, but they refused to return his phone. He refused to leave without it.
The federal agents called the state police who initially charged him with trespassing. Assistant Orleans County State’s Attorney Michael Cricchi told the judge that an assault charge was added because Adeyemi grabbed the wrist of a state trooper.
Adeyemi was held overnight before he was released on an unsecured appearance bond.