Lawyers will challenge the US government today in a Washington DC federal courtroom over its decision not to disclose why Prince Harry was allowed into the country despite an admission of illegal drug use.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative political research group, has filed a lawsuit against the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) in an attempt to determine whether the correct procedure was followed in the decision to allow the Duke of Sussex to enter the United States.
Under US law, an admission of drug use may be grounds for a visa application to be denied. The prince admitted to taking cocaine, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms in his memoir, Spare.
After his Freedom of Information (FOI) request was denied, research team requests in court that DHS release Harry’s visa application from March 2020 to find out how he responded to questions about previous drug use .
The Heritage Foundation will argue that “widespread and ongoing media coverage” questioned whether the duke was adequately controlled by the government.
But DHS said a quick release of the documents would not be in the public interest and questioned how “widespread” media coverage of the matter had been.
Can addicts be banned from visiting the United States?
US officials can prevent foreigners who have committed drug offenses from entering the country even if they have never been arrested and charged.
Under US rules, suspected drug users who apply for a visa may be required to answer additional medical history questions and also undergo a medical exam to prove they are not yet drug addicts before they can enter the country.
In high-profile cases where celebrities known to have taken drugs want to come to America, they have been invited to the American Embassy in London to undergo a drug test.
Musician Pete Doherty has been banned from the United States due to drug arrests. TV cook Nigella Lawson was also banned from flying to the US after she confessed to taking drugs.
Both sides will argue the case in federal court for the first time today in Washington DC.
It is unclear when the court will make a decision on whether to release the documents.
Lawyers will be interested in two questions on the DS160 visa form for the United States.
One asks, “Have you ever been a drug addict or drug addict?”
The other asks, “Have you ever violated, or been involved in a criminal conspiracy to violate, any laws related to controlled substances?”
In his memoir, Duke said cocaine “didn’t do anything for me,” adding, “Marijuana is different, it’s actually really helped me.”
He also admitted to hallucinating during a celebrity-filled event in California and to smoking cannabis after his first date with Meghan.
And Duke also spoke of his “positive” experience with the psychedelic drug ayahuasca, saying it “brought me a sense of relaxation, release, comfort, a lightness that I was able to maintain for a period of time.”
Harry made the comments in an interview with therapist Dr Gabor Mat, a drug decriminalization advocate who is said to have used the Amazonian plant ayahuasca to treat mentally ill patients.
The lawsuit filed by the Heritage Foundation argues that US law “generally renders such a person ineligible for entry” into the country.
Sam Dewey, representing the Heritage Foundation, told Sky News ahead of the hearing: ‘The government has taken the position that ‘there is nothing to see here’.
‘We’ve taken the position that no, if you look at all the details of his hospitalizations, you look at the drug laws, you look at the hospitalization laws, there’s a really serious question as to whether or not he should have been admitted.’
In England, Prince Harry is to testify today in London’s High Court in his case against the editor of British tabloid Daily Mirror.
It sued Mirror Group Newspapers for damages, alleging that the journalists were connected to illegal methods of intelligence gathering.
Harry became the first prince to testify before a British court in 130 years when he arrived on Tuesday after missing the first day of his trial on Monday.
Legal experts suggested late last month that US border officials might have been entitled to block the Duke of Sussex’s visit to London over the case, although they were unlikely to do so.
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