National

Photographer sues government over travel ban to Syria

Kyodo

A photographer is suing the government, claiming that a Foreign Ministry ban against him traveling to Syria or Iraq is unconstitutional.

On Feb. 7, the ministry ordered Yuichi Sugimoto, who was planning to travel to Syria later that month, to surrender his passport. The ministry said it did so because it feared Sugimoto would be in danger as Islamic State militants had killed two Japanese hostages in Syria a short time earlier.

In April, the ministry issued a new passport to the 58-year-old, banning him from traveling to Syria and Iraq.

In his suit filed Thursday with the Tokyo District Court, Sugimoto is seeking to have the ban on him traveling to the two countries overturned as well as the return of his previous passport.

The Foreign Ministry’s actions infringe on the freedoms of travel and of the press guaranteed by the Constitution, Sugimoto said.

“The government deprived me of an opportunity for overseas coverage, which is my purpose in life,” Sugimoto told a news conference. “The ban should not be allowed.”

A Foreign Ministry official declined to comment, saying it has yet to go through the lawsuit in detail.

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