The Pentagon confiscated a foreign reporter’s phone and forbade them from using all electronic devices while traveling with the deputy secretary of defense.
The situation unfolded during Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks's flight to Norway on Sunday, Politico reported.
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Before the plane took off, the reporter from Reuters was told of a new rule forbidding foreigners from using their electronic devices while flying on Air Force planes using top-secret classifications.
Shortly after the plane took off, a public affairs official asked the reporter to hand over his or her phone and was told that he or she couldn’t use a computer or AirPods, Politico reported, citing a person on the trip. Another journalist on the trip who is a U.S. citizen did not have to give up any devices.
"Like everyone serving in uniform, U.S. Air Force aircrews are expected to protect classified information aboard their aircraft,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, an Air Force spokesman. “In accordance with a new policy, the aircrew in this case applied a more restrictive approach to communication security, which led to a miscommunication about the reporter's use of personal electronic devices on the aircraft.”
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The reporter got the phone back after the flight landed in Oslo.
“We have expressed our concern about this rule change regarding members of the press who are non-U.S. citizens being able to access electronic devices during travel with the U.S. Department of Defense and are seeking further information on the issue,” Reuters told Politico.