(NEW YORK)— PEN America issued the following comment today from Jonathan Friedman, Sy Syms managing director, U.S. Free Expression Programs, about the reported interrogation of an Israeli scholar at Detroit Metro airport about his political views and academic work: 

“PEN America is alarmed by Israeli scholar Ilan Pappé’s account of being detained and questioned by U.S. border guards, seemingly because of his academic work and political views critical of the Israeli government. The experience he describes–interrogation regarding his views and writings, and the temporary confiscation of his cell phone–is an inappropriate and worrying response to a foreign scholar critical of a foreign government. PEN America has long expressed concerns when writers and academics face questioning at U.S. borders based on their work and opinions, in part because such cases risk casting a chilling effect on foreign scholars and writers who seek to enter the U.S.”

In 2017 under the Trump administration’s immigration policies, PEN America reported on travelers—including writers and U.S. citizens returning home—being subjected to aggressive interrogations at the border. 


About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], (201) 247-5