Lynsey Addario: Israel border guards strip searched me


American photojournalist Lynsey Addario stands near the frontline during a pause in the fighting on March 11, 2011 in Ras Lanuf, Libya.


John Moore

Israeli border officials made Lynsey Addario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer, pass through an X-ray machine three times on her way to Israel, despite being pregnant, The New York Times reported.

Addario, who was seven months pregnant, had called Israeli border officials last month to make sure that she wouldn't be subjected to the X-ray machine because she was worried about the radiation affecting her pregnancy.

When she got to the border, however, she was told that if she did not pass through the X-ray machine she would have to remove all of her clothes down to her underwear for a search.

To avoid the humiliation, Addario decided to walk through the X-ray machine. But then, she faced what she has described as humiliation.

In a letter to the Israeli ministry, Addario wrote:

As I passed through, a handful of soldiers watched from the glass above the machine smiling triumphantly. They proceeded to say there was a ‘problem’ with the initial scan, and made me pass through two additional times as they watched and laughed from above. I expressed each time that I was concerned with the effect the radiation would have on my pregnancy.

She was then brought into a room where a woman asked her to take of her pants. The woman asked her to lift up her shirt, while she stood in her underwear.

"They were unprofessional for soldiers from any nation," Addario wrote.

Addario is one of four Times photographers who were detained for days by forces in Libya last spring and subjected to brutal treatment.

The Israeli Defense Ministry has apologized for the incident, but as New York Magazine points out -- it's not very convincing.

According to the statement:

"We would like to apologize for this particular mishap in coordination and any trouble it may subsequently have caused to those involved,” the ministry dismissed Ms. Addario’s concern about radiation. “The relevant machine is situated at numerous borders and airports across the world and presents no danger for those who use it."

The ministry added that although the search “was carried out according to the accepted security procedure,” officials have “decided to hone the procedure for foreign journalists.”

 Jerusalem bureau chief of The Times Ethan Bronner said in response to the statement:

The Times remains shocked at the treatment Lynsey Addario received and shocked at how long the investigation has taken since our complaint was lodged a month ago. The careless and mocking way in which she was handled should not be considered accepted security procedure. We welcome the announcement by the Defense Ministry of plans to hone that procedure.