Seven years ago, I realised that I was blacklisted by the US government. It was September 2010, when I went to the US Embassy in Athens to renew my journalists’ visa along with two of my colleagues. We had been using our visas since 2000 for travel to USA for the needs of my weekly TV program “Reportage without Frontiers”. The program aired big stories and documentaries from around the world and had been named four times the best news show on the Greek TV.
My two colleagues were granted a new visa immediately. However, I was told to go back home and wait. Seven years have passed since then, and despite different demarches, including that of freedom of the press watchdog Reporters Without Frontiers, I got no answer. Following my efforts and with the US Ambassadors in Athens and Brussels finding themselves in difficult situation, they proposed I apply for a simple travel visa as they were familiar with my work as a journalist and a documentaries director. The answer was the same: rejected.
I hoped that my election in the European Parliament could resolve the situation. In the summer of 2017, I was invited to address, as an MEP, the People’s Summit in Chicago. Again, I applied for a visa, but still got no response. This December 2017, I was part of the official European Parliament’s delegation travelling to the USA to meet American colleagues and officials. This time, the US government had to come forward with an explanation: After seven years I was informed that my visa application was rejected and pointed to an article on terrorism. So I found out to my utter surprise that I am a suspect of high jacking a plane or at least endorsing terrorist organisations.
Of course, I have absolutely nothing to do with all this. I have created multiple documentaries against terrorism. My film “The true story of 17th of November”, one of the most watched documentaries in Greece is dedicated to the “17 November” Greek terrorist organisation victims’ families condoning terrorism. My last film, « Laughing to Death », is about the real danger of islamic terrorism, for which I have also organised an event in the European Parliament, in Charlie Hebdo editors’ memory, who were so brutally murdered by the jihadists.
What in fact happened was that the that the US Embassy in Athens complained to Greek Government for my documentaries which were aired on national television. As I would expect, they did not like at all a 2004 documentary on Iraq invasion which was titled “24+1 lies to sell a war”. Another movie of mine, “Apology of an economic hitman”, also sparked complaints. The movie was awarded two international prizes and was projected in theatres in New York and Los Angeles. In a Board of Greek Public Television Directors’ meeting, back in 2008, according to official records, “the problems that the (my) show has caused to -then prime minister- Mr Simitis, when he was negotiating important issues with the US” were discussed. A month later I was fired from the Public Television (I was reinstated in 2010 – when I happened to apply for the never coming visa)
I feel vindicated for the criticism my documentaries made on US foreign policy. The invasion in Iraq, is now, according to common belief, the foundation of the Islamic State. Edward Peck, an exceptional US diplomat, told me what happened when President Ronald Reagan formed a Committee, in which Mr. Peck was a member, to clarify what terrorism is: the Committee came back empty handed as every attempt to define a terrorist act resembled something that the US government or one of its agencies have done in the past!
No, I am not the one that killed JFK and I demand some answers. Shall we, Europeans start forbidding US deputies to come to Europe on the basis of their political views? Who has given the right to the US government to exclude an elected MEP from an official delegation of the European Parliament? And on what grounds? The European Parliament should demand explanations and the US government should give specific answers.