While there has been little media attention in the United States, European press is reporting how German-Bulgarian writer and activist Ilija Trojanow was barred from entering the United States this week. A critic of NSA spying programs and professor at The European Graduate School, Trojanow was invited to speak at a literary conference and is well-known for his criticism of the surveillance state. He said that he was given no explanation for being barred from entry.
Trojanow was left stranded at an airport in Brazil.
In a public article, Trojanow denounced his treatment and added in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that “It is more than ironic if an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state for years, will be denied entry into the ‘land of the brave and the free.’” He may have a point.
Germans are outraged and I do not understand why this is not a bigger story in the United States. This is a leading civil libertarian critic of our spy agencies. His being barred entry raises a serious question of retaliation against the critics of our government. He has invited the government to explain his being barred entry. I, for one, would like to hear it. If he is a secret spy, drug dealer or terrorist, it will come as a great surprise. Indeed, we generally arrest such people, not send them on their way. The burden is on the Administration to explain such an action taken against one of its most prominent critics. I cannot find any response from the Administration, which has not been shy in the past to release information defending itself in such stories either directly or through leaks. Of course, this is not a story that seems to register with our mainstream media even though tens of thousands of Germans have signed a letter calling on their government to take action.
It is a highly damaging story to our already tarnished image abroad. If the story is untrue, we should hear about it. If the story is true (and the government barred a critic), someone needs to be held accountable for an attack on free speech.