Today, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton banned me from attending a talk by William Browder, a controversial American-born investor whose unproved stories about the theft of several of his Russian companies and the death of his accountant have led to bans in the U.S. (2012) and elsewhere against people he has accused of human rights abuses and the theft of those companies.
The result is important beyond his personal interests, as it has damaged relations between Russia and the U.S. as well as with the European Union.
About a half hour before I was to leave for Penn Station to take the train from New York City to Princeton, Chris Ferrara, the media director for the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, called to say I had been banned from the event. I had previously gotten confirmation of my attendance.
This decision by the Institute is an egregious violation of the university’s commitment to open discourse. If Princeton is now to ban people who might raise challenging questions from attending campus meetings open to the public, that is a terrible black mark on the university’s reputation. Princeton should apologize for this action and pledge not to repeat it.
Here is the confirmation I got several days ago:
——– Forwarded Message ——–
|Subject:||Form submission from: World Disorder Lecture – Bill Browder|
|Date:||Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:30:45 +0000|
|From:||Institute for Advanced Study <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
Thank you for registering to attend the World Disorder Lecture Series featuring Bill Browder on Friday, December 2 at 5:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall. Should you have questions or need to change your registration, please email email@example.com.
Today I called to get more details and indicated I was a reporter. Then I got this message:
——– Forwarded Message ——–
|Subject:||William Browder Event|
|Date:||Fri, 2 Dec 2016 14:03:59 -0500 (EST)|
|From:||Christine Ferrara <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
Dear Ms. Komisar,
Thank you for calling us earlier about the lecture by William Browder this evening.Unfortunately, we cannot grant you access to the lecture nor the reception that follows. This event is not open to the general press, and in any case, all press must be vetted and approved by Mr. Browder’s London office. I understand from the office that you have not sought approval to attend, so we cannot permit you to attend. Please note that your name has been removed fromthe registration list.
As I mentioned earlier, the talk will be live streamed via the Institute website at www.ias.edu, so you are welcome to view it live and also view it afterward on our site. The video should be uploaded within a few days.
Thanks in advance for your cooperation and understanding. I will also follow-up with a phone call to ensure that you received this message.
Director of Communications
Institute for Advanced Study
1 Einstein Drive
Princeton, NJ 08540
Browder was obviously not happy at the idea I would attend, as I had exposed him as an offshore tax evader in this story for 100Reporters:
In the same story on my own website I included many links to documents: