Knight Center
Knight Center


U.S. bars entry to German journalist critical of NSA scandal

Ilija Trojanow. Photo: Thomas Dorn via Wikipedia.

U.S. authorities denied access to the country to German writer and journalist Ilija Trojanow, a notorious critic of the U.S.’s National Security Agency. The 48-year-old author was stopped in Brazil’s Salvador da Bahia Airport when he was about to board a plane to Miami, en route to Denver for a German-language literary conference.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF in French), Trojanow was denied any explanation as to why he couldn’t enter the United States on Sept. 30, although his travel documents were in order. In 2012, he had already been denied a visa by the American Consulate, which finally yielded under pressure from the university that wanted to host Trojanow.  

A spokeswoman for Trojanow’s publisher said he returned to Germany on Tuesday.

“It seems that the United States are rejecting all forms of criticism in the name of national security. If Ilja Trojanow’s entry to the United States was denied him because of his views on the international surveillance scandal, then American authorities are deliberately suppressing a matter of public interest,” RSF said on their website. “This is absolutely unworthy of the land of the 1st Amendment.”

Trojanow has been critical of the NSA, particularly of its Operation PRISM, since Edward Snowden released documents about the operation earlier this year. Following the NSA revelations, Trojanow co-wrote an open letter in July that was signed by 70,000 people and was delivered in Berlin to German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanding that she take action against alleged surveillance by the U.S. in Germany.

“We can also wonder whether this is a message to Brazil,” RSF added. “Glenn Greenwald, one of the most active journalists when it comes to publishing Edward Snowden’s revelations on global surveillance, currently lives in Brazil. His partner, David Miranda was detained for nine hours at Heathrow International Airport in London, under the Terrorism Act.”

Author Juli Zeh, who co-wrote a book with Trojanow that examines technology's invasions of privacy, was outraged by her coauthor’s denial into entering the U.S.

"It is more than ironic that an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state over the years could be denied entry to the 'land of the free and the home of the brave,'" Zeh wrote on her Facebook page. “This is a farce. Pure paranoia. People who stand up for civil rights are treated as enemies of the state,” she said.

1 comment

Brandt Hardin wrote 3 years 3 weeks ago

Living in a Society of Fear

The dystopian fantasies of yesteryear are now a reality. We’ve allowed the coming of an age where the civil liberties our forefathers fought so hard for are being eroded by the day. Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are mere ghostly images of their original intent. We’ve woken up to an Orwellian Society of Fear where anyone is at the mercy of being labeled a terrorist for standing up for rights we took for granted just over a decade ago. Read about how we’re waging war against ourselves at

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