For German-Bulgarian writer and professor Ilija Trojanow, simply speaking out against NSA spying appears to be enough to get him barred from entering the United States.
The European Graduate School professor and co-author of the book Attack on Freedom: Security Paranoia, the Surveillance State and the Dismantling of Civil Rights was refused entry to the United States on Monday as he attempted to travel from Brazil to attend a German language conference in Denver.
At Salvador da Bahia airport in Brazil, Trojanow was informed that he would not be allowed to enter the United States. No explanation for the refusal was given.
"The woman told me curtly and without emotion that entry to the United States was being denied to me - without giving any reason," Trojanow told the German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
In lieu of a formal explanation, Trojanow suspects he was denied because of his public opposition to NSA spying. "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 wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, following the incident.
Trojanow played a key role in organizing a mass petition in opposition to NSA spying and Geman collaboration, following Edward Snowden's revelations. The letter was signed by 70,000 people and handed to Chancellor Angela Merkel before the country's general elections.
German writer Juli Zeh, who co-organized the petition and co-authored the book Attack on Freedom, took to Facebook to write a searing critique of the incident:
To look at it in a positive way - everything we are doing is having an effect; It is being brought to public attention. To look at it negatively, it is a farce, pure paranoia [on the part of the U.S.]. People who stand up for civil rights are being treated as enemies of the state.
It may only be an individual case, but it illustrates the consequences of a disastrous development and exposes the naïve attitude of many citizens who reassure themselves with the mantra that this does not affect them.