This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Port of Rykerts, British Columbia » Willie Jessop, spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was allowed to cross the border into Canada Friday after being denied entry for more than four hours.
Jessop and two companions were stopped at noon and allowed to enter the country at about 4:15 p.m. MDT. During the wait, Canada Border Service Agency officials searched their laptops and a camera. They earlier had searched the men's Lincoln Navigator and their personal bags, Jessop said.
Jessop and one of the other men were picked up by a car with British Columbia license plates, and the third man drove back into Idaho in the Lincoln.
Jessop said earlier that he had arrived from the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas early Friday morning at the airport in Spokane, Wash., and expected to meet friends living in Bountiful, a community of fundamentalist Mormons about 10 miles from the port of entry. He said he also planned to meet with Jim Oler, charged with the crime of polygamy by a special prosecutor on Wednesday.
Jessop said he has crossed into Canada through the same port of entry many times without trouble.
The agents told him that they recognized the three as leaders of the FLDS and figured they were on their way to meet with Oler, Jessop said.
"They said he is now a criminal and we may be up here giving him legal counsel and they are going to decide if we get to come in or not," Jessop said from the Lincoln Navigator where he waited. He declined to identify the two men traveling with him in the vehicle, which has Idaho license plates.
"Last I knew, someone was given an opportunity to be found guilty instead of the assumption," he said.
The only issue for the border officials, Jessop he said, seemed to be that he and his companions were recognized as FLDS members. "In America, we call that discrimination," he said.
A border agent at the port of entry declined to comment and asked a Tribune reporter and photographer to leave the port property.
Agency spokeswoman Faith St. John said Canada's Privacy Act would prevent her from discussing any particular case.