An acclaimed Jewish-Hungarian writer has been granted political asylum in Canada.
Akos Kertesz, 80, fled to Canada last year, claiming life in Hungary was difficult due to his high-profile work highlighting Hungary’s role in the Holocaust. He was given refugee status in Ottawa, and has now been granted official asylum.
The move is making political waves, as Hungary is on Canada’s “safe list” of countries to visit.
Kertesz has alleged in the past that he was the victim of a “witch hunt” and “hate campaign” in his native Hungary, particularly after a 2011 open letter condemning his country for not taking more responsibility for its role in the deportation and eventual murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews.
The letter ran in a US-Hungarian newspaper, drawing an immediate backlash.
“[I] was forced [to flee] because of the current Hungarian government,” Kertesz said, according to the Canadian Jewish News. “I hope that one day I will be able to return to a democratic, tolerant, humane Hungary.”
Kertesz is the author of some 20 books and the recipient of Hungary’s most esteemed literary prize.