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HomeTopicsExpat LivingControversy Erupts as Costa Rica Denies Entry to British Journalist

Controversy Erupts as Costa Rica Denies Entry to British Journalist

Through his Twitter account (X), British journalist Karl Penhaul reported being stranded since last Sunday at the Juan Santamaría International Airport, as immigration authorities denied his entry to Costa Rica.

Penhaul challenged Mario Zamora, Minister of Security, and Jorge Rodriguez, Minister of Communication, to come to the airport and talk to him.

According to the British journalist, he was visiting the country to meet with a group of freelance colleagues. However, the meeting could not take place because immigration authorities prevented his entry. He was subsequently ordered to return to Spain, where he resides.

“I arrived (on Sunday afternoon) and immigration agents were waiting for me as I was exiting the plane. They didn’t even pass me through immigration control; they simply called me to take fingerprints and photographs. Some time later, they told me that I was not admitted,” he told El Periódico del Pueblo.

According to Diario Extra, when he boarded the plane in Madrid bound for San Jose, an APIS Quick Query system notification was delivered. This system is used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to review passenger information prior to boarding for commercial flights arriving or departing from the United States. However, given that the flight didn’t pass through U.S. territory, he was allowed to board.

The journalist has a travel ban prohibiting his entry into the United States because he lived in Colombia between 1996 and 2014, where he worked as a correspondent for Reuters and CNN.

There, he covered, among other topics, the internal armed conflict between the Colombian army and paramilitary groups, and in his last years in the coffee-growing lands, the incipient peace processes.

The international association Reporters Without Borders has been calling on the U.S. government since 2016 to reconsider Penhaul’s status on that list.

The journalist alleged a violation of his human rights and freedom of the press, as he was not allowed to enter Costa Rica.

“If Costa Rica is considered an extension of the United States and only does what they say, then that’s fine, but they should tell me at the airport of origin, right? I mean, so I don’t waste time,” he reproached while talking to Diario Extra.

Meanwhile, Zamora assured in his social networks that “in the International Security systems consulted by the Migration Directorate, he had access to information that did not qualify him to enter national territory.”

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