French Activist Detained at JFK Ariport

Feb. 9, 2006
Jose Bove was stopped at an airport upon arrival in the United States, denied entry by customs officials and put on a plane back to France.

A French anti-globalization activist best known for ransacking a McDonald's restaurant near his home in 1999 was stopped at an airport upon arrival in the United States, denied entry by customs officials and put on a plane back to France.

Jose Bove, who had been invited to speak at an event sponsored by Cornell University, was not eligible to enter the United States under the visa waiver program, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Janet Rapaport said late Wednesday.

The visa waiver program allows residents of 27 participating countries, including France, to travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without getting a visa, according to information on the Department of State Web site.

People traveling under the program are screened before they are allowed to enter the United States, according to the Web site. Rapaport said she did not know why Bove was ineligible.

After arriving Wednesday afternoon at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Bove was detained and questioned by customs officials, Rapaport said. He was returned to France that evening.

Bove had been set to speak Thursday in New York at an event sponsored by Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said Sean Sweeney, director of Cornell's Global Labor Institute and a faculty member at the school.

"We're bitterly disappointed," he said. "A lot of time and effort was spent to bring him over."

Bove also had other engagements in New York and was to travel to the Cornell campus, in upstate Ithaca, next week to speak with students, Sweeney said.

Last November, Bove was sentenced to four months in prison for destroying a field of genetically modified corn planted by an American seed company in southern France in July 2004.

He also participated in protests during the World Trade Organization meetings held in December in Hong Kong, where he was briefly detained after arriving but allowed to enter following an intervention by the French consul general.

He shot to fame in 1999 after leading a group of protesters who dismantled a McDonald's restaurant under construction in Millau, near his sheep farm in southern France.


Associated Press writer Desmond Butler contributed to this report.

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