Passport Authorities Reject Walesa Application
WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Authorities in Gdansk today rejected Solidarity leader Lech Walesa’s application to travel to the United States to receive a humanitarian award, according to one of his aides.
Wladyslaw Trzcinski quoted Interior Ministry officials in Gdansk as saying that Walesa had not properly completed the passport application process.
Walesa was invited to the United States by the John-Roger Foundation, a California-based organization that named him one of three recipients of its annual ″Integrity″ award. The presentation ceremony is in Los Angeles on Friday.
But without a passport it appeared that Walesa, a founder of the Solidarity free trade union movement, would not be able to take his first trip to the United States.
″It seems for the time being the decision is no,″ Trzcinski said in a telephone interview.
Walesa was unavailable for comment because he reported to work at the Lenin shipyard as normal today and sent Trzcinski to the passport office in his place, Trzcinski said. It was unclear why Walesa did not go to the passport office.
Walesa never formally applied for a passport to travel to the United States.
He maintained that a passport application filed earlier in the year for a trip to Italy - which he never made - would be valid for travel to the United States if he requested that the destination of his proposed trip be changed.
Despite learning of the ″Integrity″ award weeks ago, however, Walesa waited until this morning to request the change. Trzcinski said he was told by the Interior Ministry officials that Walesa would have to file a new passport application.
Walesa has not traveled outside Poland since Solidarity, the first free trade union movement in the Soviet bloc, was suppressed and martial law imposed in December 1981. He sent his wife Danuta and son Bogdan to Oslo, Norway, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on his behalf in 1983.
Walesa has said he wanted to travel to the United States, but that he needed assurances from the Polish government that he would be allowed to return home.
Walesa said he was told by representatives of the John-Roger Foundation that they had received such assurances from the Polish Embassy in Washington, but he insisted that he ″get some kind of confirmation″ in Poland.
Government spokesman Jerzy Urban said at a news conferences Wednesday and Tuesday that the government never makes such guarantees.
The ″Integrity″ award carries a $10,000 prize, which Walesa has said he would donate to a French organization that sponsors medical programs for Poles.
The other recipients of the award this year are singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder and USA for Africa organizer Ken Kragen.
Based in Santa Monica, Calif., John-Roger Foundation officials said it is a non-political organization that seeks to promote individual well-being as well as world peace.