The Bulgarian-German writer Illija Trojanow was boarding a plane in Brazil en route to Denver, where he had been invited to address a German Studies conference, when American authorities denied him passage to the US. Trojanow was stranded in Brazil, and the US officials refused to give any reason for denying him entry to the US - all of his documents were in order.
But it seems clear that the writer was being punished for his public criticism of the NSA surveillance activities in Germany and elsehwere, activities that came to light with the documents leaked by former security analyst Edward Snowden. In fact, however, Trojanow's book Angriff auf die Freiheit – Sicherheit, Überwachungsstaat und der Abbau bürgerlicher Rechte (Attack Upon Freedom – Security, the Surveillance State and the Dismantling of Civil Rights).was published in 2009 - four years before Snowden appeared on the scene. More recenly, Trojanow signed a petition to German chancellor Angela Merkel, asking her to take the NSA revelations more seriously as a threat to the rights of German citizens.
The idea that Illija Trojanow somehow represents a security threat to the United States is laughable. Many Americans share Torjanow's dim view of the NSA and its unchecked powers. In fact, many members in the US CONGRESS share these views. I don't happen to agree with the NSA hysteria here and in Germany, but I welcome Trojanow's contributions to the discussion. Our First Amendment freedom of expression laws are our most cherished rights, and the US looks foolish for stupdily trying to muzzle critics like Illija Trojanow. In fact, because of this act by US officials, sales of Trojanow's books in Germany have skyrocketed.
Trojanow himself provided the best commentary in an op/ed piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
Es ist mehr als ironisch, wenn einem Autor, der seine Stimme gegen die Gefahren der Überwachung und des Geheimstaates im Staat seit Jahren erhebt, die Einreise in das „land of the brave and the free“ verweigert wird. Gewiss, ein kleiner Einzelfall nur, aber er illustriert die Folgen einer desaströsen Entwicklung und entlarvt die naive Haltung vieler Bürger, die sich mit dem Mantra „Das betrifft mich doch nicht“ beruhigen. Das mag ja noch zutreffen, aber die Einschläge kommen näher. Gegenwärtig erhalten diese Bürger nur stille Post von den Geheimdiensten, aber eines nicht so fernen Tages werden sie die Rechnung für ihre Arglosigkeit zugestellt bekommen.
(It is more than ironic when an author who for years has been raising his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state is denied entry into the "land of the brave and the free". Certainly this just a small insignificant case, but it illustrates the consequences of a disastrous development and exposes the naive attitude of many citizens who comfort themselves with the the thought "This has nothing to do with me". That may still be true, but the impact is getting closer. For the time being, these citizens are not hearing from the secret intelligence authorities , but in the not so distant future they might be presented with the bill for their supposed blamelessness.)