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Nobel literature laureate Harold Pinter lashes out at U.S.


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Stockholm (dpa) - British playwright Harold Pinter, this year's Nobel literature laureate, lashed out at U.S. foreign policy in his Nobel lecture on Wednesday, where he also discussed writing and language.

Pinter criticised Washington's motives for invading Iraq as "a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law" and blasted the treatment of prisoners held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo.

The 75-year-old writer has battled cancer in recent years, and was forced to cancel his planned visit to Stockholm. The traditional Nobel lecture was pre-recorded in London.

In Pinter's absence from the December 10 award ceremony, his publisher Stephen Page, head of Faber & Faber, is due to accept the award worth 10 million kronor (1.3 million dollars), a medal and a diploma on Pinter's behalf.

Pinter used the lecture to discuss his views on post-war history.

While the "systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought" during the post-war period were "fully documented" in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the same could not be said for "U.S. crimes in the same period," Pinter said.

The U.S. "supported and in many cases engendered every rightwing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War," he said, mentioning Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Chile.

"The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven," he said.

During the 1980s Pinter often spoke out against U.S. involvement in Central America, and cited the "tragedy" of Nicaragua and the use of "low intensity conflict (which) means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop."

In recent years, the U.S. has become so strong and powerful that "it quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent," Pinter said.

The London-born author was critical of Britain's support for the U.S. and likened it to a "bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead".

On language, Pinter said that in art it "remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool which might give way under you."

Pinter made his debut as a playwright in 1957 with "The Room". Another early play was "The Birthday Party" (1957). His breakthrough came with "The Caretaker" in 1959, followed by "The Homecoming" in 1964. He has also written screenplays for film and television.

"I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say," Pinter said, adding "most of the plays are engendered by a line, a word or an image."

December 10 marks the anniversary of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel's death. Nobel, who invented dynamite, created the prizes, which are also awarded in medicine, physics, chemistry, peace and economics.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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