American prof. subjected to intense El Al search shares name of pro-Iran activist, Haaretz learns
After many previous visits without incident, science expert 'humiliated' en route to Hebrew University conference.
An American brain science expert subjected to “humiliating” scrutiny during an El Al security check in Luton Airport near London was apparently the victim of mistaken identity. The passenger, Heather Bradshaw of Indiana University, was on her way to Israel to speak at a conference at the invitation of Hebrew University.
Haaretz learned yesterday that there is an American activist of the same name who has been working on behalf of Iranian and Pakistani exiles and is involved in resettling them in the United States.
It is thought that this other Heather Bradshaw may have appeared on a list that resulted in the close security scrutiny.
El Al responded yesterday that the company is not permitted to provide details on security matters, adding that the airline operates according to instructions issued by government security authorities.
According to a complaint lodged with El Al on behalf of the lecturer Bradshaw by University of Haifa Prof. Arik Rimmerman, she was treated as a suspect by security personnel at the airport. The complaint stated that she showed the security staff evidence of the purpose of her visit and the names of people with whom she is in contact at Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute and other documentation including a passport showing several prior visits to Israel, but security officials showed disregard for the information.
The complaint, directed at El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedy, said security personnel conducted a humiliating search of her body and also unpacked her personal possessions.
It said the security procedure took about 50 minutes and Bradshaw was then rebuked for delaying the departure of the flight and as a result had to leave her luggage and all of her other personal items behind, including her purse and a watch.
The complaint stated she was only allowed to take her passport and three credit cards.
Her suitcase and other possessions were delivered to her yesterday morning, Haaretz learned.
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