Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

60 Saudi Students Stopped from Entering U.S., 5 of them over Mobile Phones | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques receives cultural attaché of Saudi Embassy in the United States and a group of outstanding Saudi students in a number of American universities. SPA

Washington-Cultural Attaché at the Saudi Embassy in Washington Dr. Mohammed al-Issa denied in a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat rumors about a U.S. decision to prevent around 100 students from entering the country, saying only scores had not renewed their student residency or other documents.

“I examined the reasons that prevented some students from travelling to the U.S., and I found that they were all related to matters linked to immigration law and other academic procedures,” the cultural attaché said.

Issa denied reports about Saudi students randomly stopped from traveling, and added that their numbers do not exceed 60 students.

Commenting on other reports that a large number of Saudi students were arrested for carrying mobile phones containing violent or unethical material, Issa said the number of such students is no more than five.

He said there are ongoing warnings to students from all nationalities to be wary of saving religiously extreme or violent material on their electronic devices, even if accidentally.

The U.S. war on terror has entered a new phase, which relies on monitoring the content of electronic devices carried by foreign visitors.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is studying the possibility of using modern technologies capable of monitoring the social media pages of foreigners willing to travel to the U.S. as a pre-condition to entering U.S. territories while applying for a visa.

Earlier, the U.S. Department of State had issued a statement saying all foreigners traveling to the U.S. would be examined by security officials, the customs and borders units.

The examination would also involve the visitors’ computers, CDs, videos, mobile phones and other devices such as music and electronic devices.

A U.S. official at the Department of State, who wished to remain anonymous, told Asharq Al-Awsat there were no individual cases in the travel cancellation.

“Information about visa procedures is very private and we cannot speak about it publically,” he said.