Taner Akçam is a Turkish scholar who has meticulously researched the history of the Armenian genocide to conclude that one, indeed, took place. For his efforts he has been attacked as a terrorist and threatened. He has also been put in the “no flight” list by both American and Canadian authorities, but apparently this was done based on his profile in wikipedia! As everyone knows, anyone can add anything to a wikipedia entrie, regardless of its truth value.

The Independent (London)
23 April 2007
Caught in the deadly web of the internet
Any political filth or personal libel can be hurled at the innocent
Robert Fisk
Could it possibly be that the security men who guard the frontiers of North
America are supporting Holocaust denial? Alas, it’s true. Here’s the story.
Taner Akçam is the distinguished Turkish scholar at the University of Minnesota
who, with immense courage, proved the facts of the Armenian genocide — the
deliberate mass murder of up to a million and a half Armenians by the Ottoman
Turkish authorities in 1915 — from Turkish documents and archives. His book A
Shameful Act was published to great critical acclaim in Britain and the United
He is now, needless to say, being threatened with legal action in Turkey under
the infamous Law 301 — which makes a crime of insulting “Turkishness” — but
it’s probably par for the course for a man who was granted political asylum in
Germany after receiving an eight-year prison sentence in his own country for
articles he had written in a student journal; Amnesty International had already
named him a prisoner of conscience.
But Mr Akçam has now become a different kind of prisoner: an inmate of the
internet hate machine, the circle of hell in which any political filth or
personal libel can be hurled at the innocent without any recourse to the law,
to libel lawyers or to common decency. The Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant
Dink was misquoted on the internet for allegedly claiming that Turkish blood
was “poisonous”; this total lie – Dink never said such a thing — prompted a
young man to murder him in an Istanbul street.
But Taner Akçam’s experience is potentially far more serious for all of us. As
he wrote in a letter to me this month, “Additional to the criminal
investigation (law 301) in Turkey, there is a hate campaign going on here in
the USA, as a result of which I cannot travel internationally any more… My
recent detention at the Montreal airport – apparently on the basis of anonymous
insertions in my Wikipedia biography – signals a disturbing new phase in a
Turkish campaign of intimidation that has intensified since the November 2006
publication of my book.”
Akçam was travelling to lecture in Montreal and took the Northwest Airlines
flight from Minneapolis on 16 February this year. The Canadian immigration
officer, Akçam says, was “courteous” — but promptly detained him at Montreal’s
Trudeau airport. Even odder, the Canadian immigration officer asked him why he
needed to be detained. Akçam tells me he gave the man a brief history of the
genocide and of the campaign of hatred against him in the US by Turkish groups
“controlled by … Turkish diplomats” who “spread propaganda stating that I am
a member of a terrorist organisation”.
All this went on for four hours while the immigration officer took notes and
made phone calls to his bosses. Akçam was given a one-week visa and the
Canadian officer showed him — at Akçam’s insistence — a piece of paper which
was the obvious reason for his temporary detention.
“I recognised the page at once,” Akçam says. “The photo was a still from a 2005
documentary on the Armenian genocide… The still photo and the text beneath it
comprised my biography in the English language edition of Wikipedia, the online
encyclopedia which anyone in the world can modify at any time. For the last year
… my Wikipedia biography has been persistently vandalised by anonymous
‘contributors’ intent on labelling me as a terrorist. The same allegations has
been repeatedly scrawled, like gangland graffiti, as ‘customer reviews’ of my
books at Amazon.”
Akçam was released, but his reflections on this very disturbing incident are
worth recording. “It was unlikely, to say the least, that a Canadian
immigration officer found out that I was coming to Montreal, took the sole
initiative to research my identity on the internet, discovered the archived
version of my Wikipedia biography, printed it out on 16 February, and showed it
to me – voilà! – as a result.”
But this was not the end. Prior to his Canadian visit, two Turkish-American
websites had been hinting that Akçam’s “terrorist activities” should be
of interest to American immigration authorities. And sure enough, Akçam was
detained yet again — for another hour — by US Homeland Security officers
at Montreal airport before boarding his flight at Montreal for Minnesota
two days later.
On this occasion, he says that the American officer — US Homeland Security
operates at the Canadian airport — gave him a warning: “Mr Akçam, if you don’t
retain an attorney and correct this issue, every entry and exit from the country
is going to be problematic. We recommend that you do not travel in the meantime
and that you try to get this information removed from your customs dossier.”
So let’s get this clear. US and Canadian officials now appear to be detaining
the innocent on the grounds of hate postings on the internet. And it is the
innocent — guilty until proved otherwise, I suppose — who must now pay
lawyers to protect them from Homeland Security and the internet. But as Akçam
says, there is nothing he can do.
“Allegations against me, posted by the Assembly of Turkish American
Associations, Turkish Forum and ‘Tall Armenia Tale’ (a Holocaust-denial
website) have been copy-pasted and recycled through innumerable websites and
e-groups ever since I arrived in America. By now, my name in close proximity to
the English word ‘terrorist’ turns up in well over 10,000 web pages.”
I’m not surprised. There is no end to the internet’s circle of hate. What does
shock me, however, is that the men and women chosen to guard their nations
against Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida are reading this dirt and are prepared to
detain an honourable scholar such as Taner Akçam on the basis of it.
I don’t think the immigration lads are to blame. I once remember listening to
a Canadian official at Toronto airport carefully explaining to a Palestinian
visitor that he was not required to tell any police officer about his religion
or personal beliefs, that he should feel safe in Canada.
No, it’s their bosses in Ottawa and Washington I wonder about. Put very simply,
how much smut are the US and Canadian immigration authorities taking off the
internet? And how much of it is now going to be flung at us when we queue at
airports to go about our lawful business?