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Naked Flier Gets Off for 'Free Speech'

Portland passenger was protesting 'invasive' TSA
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2012 12:03 AM CDT
Updated Jul 20, 2012 2:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – An air passenger who stripped down in anger during an airport security check did nothing illegal because he was engaging in a constitutionally protected "free speech" protest, a judge has ruled. A furious John E. Brennan, 50, of Portland removed his clothes earlier this year to protest invasive security procedures, he told the judge, who acquitted him of indecent exposure charges, reports the New York Daily News. "It is the speech itself that the state is seeking to punish, and that it cannot do," declared Judge David Rees.

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Brennan was charged after the tech consultant refused to go through a body scanner at the Portland airport on his way to San Jose. After a pat down, TSA agents detected nitrates on his clothing—and Brennan got fed up and stripped. "I was mostly motivated by the absurdity of it all," he told AP. "The irony was that they want to see me naked, but I don't get to take off my clothes. You have all these machines that pretend to do it." He was cuffed after five minutes spent standing naked before stunned fellow passengers. (Read more John E. Brennan stories.)

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