After being turned away from a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Boston last Saturday by a person in front of the Lufthansa gate, who introduced himself as a representative from the consulate of the United States of America, the Iranian Swiss-based researcher Dr. Samira Asgari, tried again, on 31 January 2017, to fly to Boston, this time from Zurich, on Swiss.
Early on 29 January 2017, two Massachusetts Judges issued a Temporary Restraining Order providing immediate protection to holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, like Dr. Asgari who was travelling on a J-1 visa. The order granted holders of such visas legal authority to enter the US. Based on this Order, Dr. Asgari decided to try again, and booked a ticket on Swiss from Zurich to Boston.
Her hopes of making it to the US were dashed when she received a call from a Swiss representative on her way to from Lausanne to Zurich airport. The representative informed her that she would not be permitted to board her flight. Upon arrival in Zurich, Dr. Asgari presented a copy of the Order to the airline, however she was told that Swiss was obligated to comply with the directive and would not let her board.
Later on Tuesday, 31 January, Dr. Asgari’s lawyer spoke by telephone with Dominique Fehlmann, an in-house attorney at Swiss, with general responsibility for compliance with United States customs and immigration matters. Ms. Fehlmann said that US Customs and Border Protection had informed Swiss that Dr. Asgari should not be permitted to board the flight and that failure to comply with its directive could result in fines of up to US$50,000 and refusal of permission for Flight 52 to land in the United States.
Dr. Asgari decided to contest the actions of US Customs and Border Protection. On 1 February 2017, she and her lawyers filed a complaint at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, presented here by the news website politico.com