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Renowned French historian detained for 10 hours by US customs officials

RFI/Valérie Nivelon | Henry Rousso, Senior Researcher at France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

A French historian was detained for 10 hours by US customs officials this week while on his way to an academic conference in Texas.

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Henry Rousso, 62, a specialist in the history of World War II who has taught at the Sorbonne in Paris and Columbia University in New York, was held for questioning after his flight from Paris landed in Houston on Wednesday.

The Frenchman said on Twitter late on Saturday: “I confirm. I have been detained 10 hours at Houston Itl Airport about to be deported. The officer who arrested me was ‘inexperienced.”

 

Rousso was on his way to a Hagler Institute Symposium at Texas A&M University, local daily The Eagle reported.

Rousso said that due to the fact that he was going to be paid for his participation at the conference, the immigration official felt that he should have a working visa, not a tourist visa, when entering the US and therefore ordered him deported.

While he was being detained Rousso called the university faculty who worked with immigration lawyer Fatma Marouf to help secure his release.

“When he called me with this news two nights ago, he was waiting for customs officials to send him back to Paris as an illegal alien on the first flight out,” The Eagle reported Golsan as saying on Friday.

According to Golsan, customs officials said there was a “misunderstanding” regarding Rousso’s visa.

The Paris-based scholar is currently a senior researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, or CNRS), in Paris, one of France’s largest public research institutes. His work focuses on France in WWII and the post-war period, and he has spoken many times at the Texas A&M University on the French Vichy government during World War II and the Holocaust.

He was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1954, but his family was expelled from Egypt in 1956.
 

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