Nobel Prize winners support Kundera against informer charge

Paris - Eleven world-renowned writers, including four Nobel Prize winners, have issued a ringing defence of Czech-born author Milan Kundera, accused of turning a Western spy in to the Communist state police in 1950, the daily Le Monde reported on Tuesday.

"This amounts to no more and no less than tarnishing the honour of one of the greatest living novelists on the most dubious grounds, to say the least," read a joint statement issued by the writers, including Nobel laureates JM Coetzee, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nadine Gordimer and Orhan Pamuk.

The signatories pointed out that, in addition to Kundera's denials, the testimony of a "respected scientist from Prague," Zdenek Pesat, has also cleared him.

In mid-October, the Czech weekly Respekt published what it said was a 1950 police document stating that Kundera, then a 20-year-old Prague film student, told police he had heard about a man who had brought a suitcase to a female friend's dormitory room.

The man was Miroslav Dvoracek, a young Czech exile who was spying in his native country, the weekly said. He was arrested by police and spent nearly 14 years in jail, most of the time in a notorious uranium-mining labour camp.

Born in the southern Czech city of Brno in 1929, Kundera joined the Communist Party in his youth, but was eventually expelled for criticizing it. He left the Czech Republic in
1975 and settled in Paris, eventually becoming a French citizen.

Kundera is the author of numerous acclaimed novels, including the global bestseller The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Kundera's novels were banned in his native country after 1968 and several are still not available in Czech, a source of bitterness for many Czech readers.

One year ago, Kundera was awarded the Czech Republic's State Prize for Literature after The Unbearable Lightness of Being finally appeared in a Czech-language edition. (dpa)