Denied entry to the "land of the brave and the free"
German writer Ilija Trojanow was prevented from flying to the United States on 30 September, upon attempting to check in for his American Airlines flight out of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil. As The Huffington Post reported, Trojanow commented: “It is more than ironic if an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within the state for years, is then denied entry to the ‘land of the brave and the free’.”
He had intended to participate in the German Studies Association’s annual conference in Denver, Colorado this week, where he was due to present “EisTau: A One-Act Performance”, based on his recent novel EisTau (2011). Trojanow, a contributing editor of Eurozine partner journal Wespennest, is the recipient of, among others, the Bertelsmann Literature Prize (awarded as part of the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize event, 1995), the Marburg Literature Prize (1996) and, for his bestselling novel Der Weltensammler – translated into English as The Collector of Worlds (Faber, 2009) – the 2006 Leipzig Book Fair Prize for fiction.
PEN American Center has protested Trojanow’s denied entry into the US, stating “this most recent act of ideological exclusion calls to mind our country’s chequered history of barring writers whose political views it disfavours, at a time when the need to model tolerance for dissent is stronger than ever”. The Center has issued a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers, urging them to review the decision barring Trojanow. The German branch of PEN has also demanded an explanation from the German government.
In a Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article of 1 October, followed by an interview in SpiegelONLINE today, Trojanow suspects that the bar on his travelling to the US is related to his critical response to the NSA leaks, which included helping to initiate an open letter to Angela Merkel from over 60 authors demanding an explanation as to the German government’s position in relation to the PRISM affair. This, subsequent to a series of essays and articles on international and national surveillance operations, a collection of which was published by Hanser in 2009 in a book co-authored with Juli Zeh, entitled Angriff auf die Freiheit (“An attack on freedom”)
Updated on 3 October 2013: On Wednesday, Trojanow told the German Press Agency (DPA) after landing in Stuttgart that he would not let the matter rest but apply now for a US visa.
Read Ilija Trojanow’s personal account of events.