Mayor Mohamed Khairullah attending a documentary screening in Jersey City, New Jersey, May 3, 2017. Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images.

Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, told CNN that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents wrongfully detained him after he and his family got off a plane at JFK International Airport last month from a vacation in Turkey.

Why it matters: He said agents detained him for 3 hours and confiscated his phone for 12 days. While his family waited outside the interview room, they asked him if he met with any terrorists during his vacation.

What they're saying: Anthony Bucci, a public affairs officer with CBP, told CNN the agency could not speak about specific events because of the Privacy Act. However, he said CBP's "authority to engage in border searches is articulated in numerous statutes and has been repeatedly affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States."

  • Khairullah said an agent told him that he was randomly selected for questioning, but he said he doesn't believe it and has not ruled out legal action against CBP.
  • Ahmed Mohamed, director for New York's Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim American civil rights group, said he is representing Khairullah in what he described is "a clear case of profiling."

The big picture: If Khairullah sues the agency, he would be joining other advocates who are currently challenging CBP's authority in federal court.

  • The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2017 filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security, the CBP and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's authority to seize and search people's electronic devices at the border without reasonable suspicion or a warrant.

Go deeper: Border Patrol agents complain about national backlash

Go deeper

41 mins ago - Podcasts

The fight over fracking

Fracking has become a flashpoint in the election's final week, particularly in Pennsylvania where both President Trump and Joe Biden made stops on Monday. But much of the political rhetoric has ignored that the industry has gone from boom to bust, beset by layoffs, bankruptcies and fire-sale mergers.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of fracking, and what it means for the future of American energy, with Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group.

Democrats sound alarm on mail-in votes

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Democrats are calling a last-minute audible on mail-in voting after last night's Supreme Court ruling on Wisconsin.

Driving the news: Wisconsin Democrats and the Democratic secretary of state of Michigan are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes. They are warning that the USPS may not be able to deliver ballots by the Election Day deadline.

Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere sentenced to life in prison

Carts full of court documents related to the U.S. v. Keith Raniere case arrive at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in May 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere, 60, was sentenced to 120 years in prison on Tuesday in federal court for sex trafficking among other crimes, the New York Times reports.

Catch up quick: Raniere was convicted last summer with sex trafficking, conspiracy, sexual exploitation of a child, racketeering, forced labor and possession of child pornography. His so-called self-improvement workshops, which disguised rampant sexual abuse, were popular among Hollywood and business circles.

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