Karl-Dietrich Wolff, the 66-year old founder of Germany’s Black Panther Solidarity Committee and founder of German publisher Stroemfeld, was denied entry at JFK this weekend.  He was on his way to speak on African American civil rights and 20th century Germany at a conference at Vassar College. The circumstances and explanations are certainly sketchy.

PEN has this to say about it:

Larry Siems, director of the Freedom to Write programme at PEN America, called the denial of entry “pretty disturbing and embarrassing”. He said PEN America would be talking to its lawyers about the issue. “The timing of the cancellation of the visa in 2003… suggests they went through an old list of the usual suspects and cancelled visas wholesale,” said Siems, adding that other PEN members including Haluk Gerger, had experienced similar things.

“We have been working hard to challenge the resurgence of ideological exclusion in the US since 9/11, which we consider to be a violation of the right to freedom of expression and of the right of Americans to meet with and engage with our foreign colleagues,” he said.

The German branch of PEN – of which Wolff is a member – said the move was “outrageous and must be interpreted as a curtailment of human rights”.