ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An Austrian expert on Kurdish affairs, Thomas Schmidinger, who was planning to promote his book on Afrin, was questioned and denied boarding for a flight to the United States last week.
Schmidinger was denied boarding to a US-bound flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis on Sept. 12. He was questioned extensively by airline personnel about his research and travel in Iraq, Syria, and Iran.
A political scientist and cultural anthropologist based at the University of Vienna, Schmidinger is a well-regarded specialist on the Kurds and serves as the secretary-general of the Austrian Society for the Promotion of Kurdology.
He had been invited to the US by his American publisher for a series of events at universities and bookstores to promote his book on Afrin, “The Battle for the Mountain of the Kurds.”
Schmidinger, who has previously lived and worked as a visiting professor in the US, currently holds a 10-year multiple-entry visa for the US.
“The only difference to previous visits to the US is that this time, book launches of my book on Afrin and lectures on Afrin were planned,” he told Kurdistan 24.
Schmidinger’s last visit to the US was in November where he spoke at the University of Rhode Island.
“For this visit, I had to get a visa because of my Iraq and Syria visits, and they gave me a multiple-entry visa for 10 years,” he added. “According to the US embassy in Vienna, this visa was never canceled and is still” active.
Karin Deutsch Karlekar, the director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America, called for authorities to explain why Schmidinger was denied entry to the US.
“Preventing Professor Schmidinger from traveling and speaking about his recent academic work denies Americans the opportunity to hear, engage with, and learn from him,” Karlekar said in a statement on Friday.
“We urge authorities to allow Professor Schmidinger to be allowed to travel to the US without delay,” she concluded.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany