Spy or a victim?

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A spy would probably be afraid coming to New York, for a simple reason. He would likely be interrogated by the security forces, and actually imprisoned, or even tortured. But what if only someone dubbed you as a spy, and you actually never worked for any government? Mathew, a young writer from Slovakia, found a way to come and tell him amazing inspirational story to the audience assembled in New York’s library, though he’s afraid traveling to the States.

Mathew organized the very first ever virtual writer-reader meeting in NY library. The attendees could see him on a big screen, where he live-streamed from his home in Slovakia. He believes to become an unwitting pawn in covert intelligence games played between the United States and Iran, and that’s why he could come to present his book in person.

 

Six months in Iranian prison

Mathew V. allegedly spent six months behind the bars of notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, between August 2012 and February 2013, accused of spying for the CIA. But he doesn’t blame the Iranian secret services for his ordeal. He blames the central intelligence agency.

In a breathtaking interview, he narrated his experiences from prison, and how he got unwittingly involved in espionage. To the surprise of the most listeners, Mathew didn’t only narrate negative experience. He found positives on his imprisonment in solitary confinement, and actually called it “the most difficult and the most important time of my life.” He also shared some stories of other prisoners that didn’t have the happy ending and made everyone in the room appreciate that we live in a free country…

 

Close to a real writer-reader meeting?

With the help of interactive cameras, the writer could see his audience, and adjust his speech to the mood in the room. He got many questions about his book, University of Solitude too, presenting the unique combination of story, philosophy and mental battle.

More than sixty people came to hear the young writer, who, though becoming more popular in the US, is still reluctant to come and visit the country. His interactive lecture in New York’s library was an experiment he may never repeat again.

I was in the audience, and I couldn’t help feeling something was missing. The screen betrays the emotions, and tells a lot about the person, but it can’t really replace the physical presence. And if I had the copy of the book with me (which I didn’t since I don’t read books), Mathew would not sign it with a friendly wish. Nevertheless, in his specific case, if he really got involved into the games of international espionage, his decision to not travel to the US was probably a wise one. And New York library staff got a good idea how to invite foreign writers to speak there, with little expenses….

 

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