Nobel Prize-winning German author Guenter Grass who criticized Israel over planned Iran attacks, has likened its decision to prevent him from entering the country to a similar ban once imposed on him by the leader of East Germany's dreaded Stasi secret police.
In a comment sent by Grass to be published in Thursday's edition of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the author said Israel, former communist East Germany and Myanmar were the only countries to have imposed travel bans on him.
He said only Myanmar seemed to offer a glimmer of hope for change, referring to Israel as an unchecked nuclear power that viewed itself as immune to criticism.
Grass, 84, published a poem in the Sueddeutsche in which he called Israel as a threat to world peace.
After the poem, Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Grass "persona non grata".
Grass said the travel ban reminded him of the decision by Stasi secret police chief Erich Mielke to prevent him from visiting East Germany.
German courts finally convicted Mielke, dubbed by East Germans as "the Master of Fear", in 1993 not for Stasi activities but for murdering two policemen in 1931 while he was a communist agitator.
"Now the interior minister of a democracy, the state of Israel, has punished me with a travel ban and the tone of his justification ... reminds me of the verdict of minister Mielke," Grass wrote.
He added: "I still see myself irrevocably connected to the country of Israel."