MEP banned from entering the United States.


Stélios Kouloglou is a journalist and director, author of numerous documentaries on international politics which have been broadcast on the Greek public television channel ERT. Maintenance.

– Under what circumstances was your visa for the United States refused the first time?

Stélios Kouloglou.

During and after the war in Iraq, the American embassy started to protest to the Greek government saying: how do you expect us to help you on the Cyprus issue if Greek public service television is showing documentaries like “Twenty-five lies to sell war ”, which I directed in 2004, or“ Whistleblowers ”in 2005, and another that was theatrically aired in the United States, New York and Los Angeles, entitled“ Apology for an economic assassin ”which dates from 2008. At that time, I had a journalist visa for the United States. During a management meeting at ERT, the Greek public television, it was said that my films created problems with the American administration, and a month later I was fired on spurious grounds. It was 2008. Two years later, following a change of government – it was the Papandreou government – my program started again. I went to the American consulate in Athens with two of my assistant cameramen to request the renewal of our visas. The consulate immediately gave their visas to the two cameramen, and I am told to wait, and since 2010, I have been waiting.

– After the first refusal, what other attempts did you make to get to the United States?

Stélios Kouloglou.

In 2016, I was invited to Chicago in a meeting of the anti-capitalist left, but I was unable to attend for lack of a visa. In 2017, I was part of an official delegation from the European Parliament to go to Washington to meet with American senators, but again, I did not have a visa. There were protests, the press talked about it. Finally, I received a letter from the consulate where, without telling me exactly why I was refused the visa, they had checked a box on which was written “terrorism”. Terrorism according to American rules, it ranges from committing an attack to praising a terrorist organization. Which means, for example, that if I write an article explaining, without justifying its actions, the reasons why Hamas is acting in such and such a way, I adopt the terrorist. However, I have made a lot of documentaries against terrorism. One of my most viewed documentaries in Greece is dedicated to the families of the victims of the “Group of November 17” (a revolutionary organization that committed attacks from 1975 to the beginning of the 2000s). I have never had any relationship, direct or indirect, with terrorists, none.

– And then, you were again refused a few days ago …

Stélios Kouloglou.

Yes. From 1 to 4 November I was to be part of a delegation of a dozen MEPs to go to New York at the United Nations, and once again, I was not given a visa, without any explanation. I was the only representative of the “Left” group of the European Parliament, so the group was left without any representative.

– How do you explain that the American authorities have persisted for more than 10 years in their refusal to allow you to enter the territory?

Stélios Kouloglou.

Being on a blacklist is almost like starting a war. You can easily start it, but it’s hard to stop it. It’s the same with the blacklist, it’s easy to enter, but difficult to exit. I think initially it was linked to my documentaries. And since becoming a parliamentarian, I have continued to do the same things as I did as a journalist. For example, to hold vigorously to the case of Julian Assange. I have done meetings and seminars in the European Parliament, I went to London as an observer for his trial, I invited him to participate by audio conference in the meetings that I organized in the European Parliament, etc. As a member of Parliament, I have not changed anything from the orientations I had in my documentaries, namely to promote the truth.

– What can the supports you currently receive change?

Stélios Kouloglou.

The American authorities must explain to me precisely, based on concrete facts, why I am on the blacklist. I have asked for explanations several times. One of the American ambassadors in Greece whom I met as a journalist was flabbergasted, but he could not give me any explanation. It was the same with the United States Ambassador in Brussels, who advised me to apply for a tourist visa. I tried, but then again I got no response. I think this refusal is very much linked to my work as a journalist and I consider it a medal of honor. Besides, I spoke a few days ago with one of the protagonists of my documentary on Cyprus, “Apology for an economic assassination”, he thinks the same thing.

What do these bans tell you about the way the United States is doing?

Stélios Kouloglou.

It is a symbolic phenomenon of the degradation of North American democracy. Fifteen years ago, no one would have dared to do the same to a well-known journalist, who is also, as I am, a parliamentarian. It is not only my case that is at issue. It is also that of American citizen journalists who are under surveillance or who undergo searches while covering events, until the case of Julian Assange. Requesting the extradition of a journalist who is not American to be tried in the United States is unprecedented. What would happen if tomorrow Erdogan asked that I be extradited to Turkey because I wrote an article against him, or if he said that I disclosed Turkish state secrets? This opens Pandora’s box. Democracy in the United States is undermined by money and the endless wars of the American Empire.

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