YAOI ALERT: Canadian Customs Arrests Man For Manga

Remember last month when I told you to "Be Careful When Traveling to Canada" with your yaoi? Yeah, I wasn't kidding. A mere month later and we now have a manga fan who was arrested and is facing "a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for comics brought into the country on his laptop." Yes, on his laptop! I seem to remember a lot of comments saying they never got searched. What's worse? The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has issued this statement regarding the matter:

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it is forming a coalition to support the legal defense of an American citizen who is facing criminal charges in Canada that could result in a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for comics brought into the country on his laptop.  This incident is the most serious in a trend the CBLDF has been tracking involving the search and seizure of the print and electronic comic books carried by travelers crossing borders.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “Although the CBLDF can’t protect comic fans everywhere in every situation, we want to join this effort to protect an American comic fan being prosecuted literally as he stood on the border of our country for behavior the First Amendment protects here, and its analogues in Canadian law should protect there.”

The CBLDF has agreed to assist in the case by contributing funds towards the defense, which has been estimated to cost $150,000 CDN.  The CBLDF will also provide access to experts and assistance on legal strategy.  The CBLDF’s efforts are joined by the recently re-formed Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian organization that will contribute to the fundraising effort.  Please contribute to this endeavor by making a tax deductible contribution here.

The facts of the case involve an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties who was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend.  Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography.  The client’s name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.

The images at issue are all comics in the manga style.  No photographic evidence of criminal behavior is at issue.  Nevertheless, a warrant was issued and the laptop was turned over to police.  Consequently, the American has been charged with both the possession of child pornography as well as its importation into Canada. As a result, if convicted at trial, the American faces a minimum of one year in prison. This case could have far reaching implications for comic books and manga in North America.

The CBLDF’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to aid the case by raising funds to contribute to the defense and to help the defense with strategy and expert resources.

Brownstein says, “This is an important case that impacts the rights of everyone who reads, publishes, and makes comics and manga in North America. It underscores the dangers facing everyone traveling with comics, and it can establish important precedents regarding travelers rights.  It also relates to the increasingly urgent issue of authorities prosecuting art as child pornography.  While this case won’t set a US precedent, it can inform whatever precedent is eventually set.  This case is also important with respect to artistic merit in the Canadian courts, and a good decision could bring Canadian law closer to US law in that respect.  With the help of our supporters, we hope to raise the funds to wage a fight that yields good decisions and to create tools to help prevent these sorts of cases from continuing to spread.

Find out more on the case here. To help support the case, you can make a monetary contribution here.”

I'd like to point out the important points here. They searched his laptop, iPhone and iPad, found manga on the laptop and arrested the guy for child pornography even though NO photographic evidence of criminal behavior was at issue. This isn't just a yaoi problem, this is a problem for all manga lovers. If they can look at any manga and call it child pornography, what do you think they're going to do when they see your yaoi? I've said it before and I'll say it again, don't travel to Canada with your yaoi. Better safe and bored that sorry and labeled a child pornographer. 

~Jennifer LeBlanc


22 Comments

  • I am seriously trying to figure out what Canada is doing here.. I live here heck I order manga online here and whatnot.

    And going through his LAPTOP is just a bit overkill too me not too mention invasive.

    I mean the guy just had manga and they arrested him??? Who are they to judge what it is and what it isn’t?

    [Reply to this comment]

    MAC Reply:

    They are allowed to look “everywhere”, it’s the same at American Borders for Canadians.

    [Reply to this comment]

    betty Reply:

    hi
    Have a suggestion. Once you run windows xp or windows 7(If windows xp then you have to download it, windows xp doesn’t come with windows easy transfer.) run and install windows easy transfer, a free microsoft program used to make a very reliable .mig file of your entire user profile. Clear your computrer (Reformat if you feel safer doing so ><) then find a reliable way to transfer that file itself with u where ever you go. I suggest to get a portable external hard drive, store a lot of inocuous files on it, and then rename that file and let it be recognized as a music file or something other type of file. Bury that external deep inside your travel luggae NOT YOUR CARRY ON. Anyone going to canada, please repost and let us know if this cover op worked. It is just an idea.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Canada is following that trend that shota/lolicon/anything looking like child is child pornography and is threatening life of real children by incitement (we could debate on that, comparing it with violence but it’s not the point). The new law on obscenity passed in 2008 thanks to our venerable Mr.Harper. So NO don’t be caught in Canada with anything looking like child pornography (or extreme violence)…But unlike people may think it’s not just happening in Canada, there are similar stories in Australia (they are not kidding), Germany ( 5 years in jail) and plenty other countries (worse penalties). The best would be to let all your devices and mangas at home or consult law on obscenity for each countries you are visiting. Americans citizens just like everybody are no longer under American laws once they left their country.

    The problem in mangas is that a lot of character look like children, even if they aren’t so just don’t take the risk. If you are bored, you still can buy plenty of yaoi with girly ukes in Canada in all legality…. but not shota, just forget it.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie H Reply:

    You do make a good point, MAC I didn’t consider that. I myself are not into shota anyway so I wouldn’t worry about that were I too travel,it’s more the lack of freedom one has that’s more unnerving.

    However I guess it is too be expected when entering other countries and yes, your right about the fact that it’s really hard to tell sometimes what something is or isn’t.

    [Reply to this comment]

    MAC Reply:

    What would be nice, would be a different law for arts. One year in jail just for drawings is a way too much. Just confiscate the comics and send them in the bin with crocodiles belts was already enough.

    We are not always aware of our lack of freedom, either in Canada or elsewhere. : /

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Just to be more annoying, Christopher Handley, an American, has been arrested in his own country under the same accusations. I think the law changed since, not sure.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer LeBlanc AKA Asami's Girl Reply:

    Nope, it hasn’t. It’s the Protect ACT. He had some pretty explicit stuff from Japan featuring loli. He chose to plead guilty. He got caught via the mail (customs).

    [Reply to this comment]

    MAC Reply:

    Does it mean that if the manga found in the laptop is as explicit as Handley case, the American seized at Canadian borders could also face the same in USA?

    Well now the laptop confiscated there is no chance that it crosses the border again.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer LeBlanc AKA Asami's Girl Reply:

    I don’t think so since it was Canadian officials that confiscated it. If they gave it back to him and he was searched coming back in then yes but I haven’t heard U.S. customs and border patrol searching like that.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Lawless Reply:

    Handley did not plead guilty under the Protect ACT. The judge ruled that Protect only applied to photographic and video of actual, real minors and dismissed the Protect ACT charges. (And if the law were written differently, that would have serious First Amendment implications.) Handley was prosecuted under, and pled guilty to, obscenity charges.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer LeBlanc AKA Asami's Girl Reply:

    Yes, you’re right. I remember that now because it was actually worse. That makes it even more broad because it was up to the jury to decide what was obscene.

    [Reply to this comment]

    MAC Reply:

    Ok so just obscenity and not child porn, which is a lot better.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer LeBlanc AKA Asami's Girl Reply:

    He’s still considered a sexual deviant. This was part of his sentence:

    “During Handley’s supervised release and probation, Handley must also “participate in a treatment program, to include psychological testing and a polygraph examination, as directed by the U. S. Probation Officer.” According to earlier court documents, this last provision is “intended to provide [Handley] with diagnosis and treatment for sexually and/or gender identity or other mental health issues.”

    [Reply to this comment]

  • So who do they choose for this invasive search? How do they make that determination?
    That’s seriously FAIL.

    [Reply to this comment]

    MAC Reply:

    Random….It’s like they let pass 10 persons, and search the 10 next ones (airport).

    [Reply to this comment]

  • So what will happen to those ppl who order and buy manga online then?!?!
    I mean most of the engl manga I get are from AMZ ?!?!?
    This really is giving me the creeps … I wonder how soon the german laws will follow up and arrest us for even storing those yaoi anime on our pc’s ?!?!?!
    Mann, oh Mann .. boy, oh boy .. this is getting kinda hilarious ..

    Ok, I do support going against child abuse .. and stuff like that and not only because I’m an victim myself here. But what do some mangaka draw that will be banned like that?! It doesn’t really make any sense to me at all. Canada should ban manga then completely, shut down the comapnies which sell and print and publish them then. Wouldn’t that be more secure for citizens?!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • They are nuts nobody who has child pornography will trevel with it. And do they even have a right to look it personal information. It’s like FAHRENHEIT 451 scarry like hall.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • The CBLDF has suggestions for avoiding trouble at customs when you travel – important for anyone traveling with a laptop.

    http://cbldf.org/resources/customs/advisory-crossing-international-borders/

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jennifer LeBlanc AKA Asami's Girl Reply:

    Looks like the same info I put in my first post about this topic but always good to refresh. I think people will take it a bit more serious this time around. At least I hope. :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • What?! My country does that?! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! My life is over! Now i’m too scared to leave my country.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Eh…I just ordered a couple of doujinshis (yes, obviously they’re yaoi) online…I didn’t know Canada had that kind of law. I’m still new here…

    [Reply to this comment]

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