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Woman wants apology after laptop destroyed in Regina airport security detention

REGINA — A Saskatchewan woman says she was humiliated and wants an apology for being detained at the Regina International Airport and having her laptop destroyed.


December 14, 2016
By The Canadian Press

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Tracey Britton was heading to Peru on Monday for her father’s wedding when her laptop drew the attention of security screeners.

“Apparently, what I found out through the day, was that my laptop had been scanned as a suspicious item and that it shut down the airport basically,” Britton said in an interview Tuesday.

The bomb squad was called, passengers were moved out of the security area and planes were grounded.

Britton was held for six hours.

Police confiscated her phone and passport, she said.

One officer said there was organic material in the laptop. She heard others talking about a cylindrical piece at the back of the computer with two wires in it that they said looked like it could have been a detonator.

Britton said she was confused and scared.

“I don’t understand what’s going on here. This is my household computer. I’ve had it for years. I’ve travelled with it before. I’ve never had an issue. Why now?”

Britton said she understands that security screeners were doing their job, but she said she was unfairly treated like a criminal.

“To be basically treated that way, the way I was, and the way it was handled was basically unwarranted and uncalled for. They’ve never explained to me what exactly they found in the computer. They’ve never told me what it was that was actually wrong with it.”

Regina police said there were at least three separate assessments of the laptop that came to the conclusion that it might contain an explosive.

“The people who made these observations are trained, experienced and conscientious,” police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said in an email to media.

“They would certainly have been aware of the consequences of evacuating an area, delaying flights and inconveniencing members of the public.

“But, more importantly, they also have to consider the consequences of a lapse or an incorrect guess that could lead to an explosion on the ground or in mid-flight, resulting in the loss of lives.”

Popowich said it’s unfortunate the laptop was left unusable, but it was necessary to take the computer apart to ensure there was no explosive.

She said bomb technicians were able to save the hard drive. Britton picked it up at police headquarters Tuesday afternoon.

She has also been rebooked on another flight Wednesday, so she will be able to attend her father’s wedding.

– Jennifer Graham

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016