(AFP) – Nov 3, 2008
PARIS (AFP) — Four Nobel literature laureates are among 11 internationally-known authors who on Monday came to the defence of Czech writer Milan Kundera, accused of being a police informer under communist rule.
"A defamation campaign is under way, aimed at tarnishing the reputation of Milan Kundera," said the writers in a joint statement released by Kundera's French publisher Gallimard.
A Czech institute last month published a police report saying Kundera as a student had in 1950 denounced a young pilot who deserted to become a Western intelligence agent and was later sentenced to 22 years in prison.
"This is no less than an attempt to tarnish the honour of one of our great living writers on grounds that are suspicious to say the least," said the writers.
The signatories included Salman Rushdie, Philip Roth, Carlos Fuentes, J.M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer.
Noting that Kundera himself has denied the allegations, the authors expressed concern that the media was spreading "slanderous rumour with a baffling lightness" without taking care to report on contradicting evidence.
Kundera, who left Czechoslovakia for France in 1975 and became a French citizen in 1981, has denied the allegations as "pure lies".
"My memory has not tricked me, I did not work for the secret police," said Kundera, whose works include "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "The Joke".
The text in support of Kundera was also signed by Orhan Pamuk of Turkey, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, France's Jean Daniel, Juan Goytisolo and Jorge Semprun of Spain and Pierre Mertens of Belgium.
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