Salman Rushdie, who was returning to a normal life after years of hiding, faces new travel restrictions now that Washington has banned him from flights in and out of the United States.
The internationally renowned author was forced to cancel a trip into Canada after U.S. airline authorities imposed extreme security measures.
Mr. Rushdie, an Indian-born author who angered Islamic fundamentalists more than 10 years ago with his book The Satanic Verses, is currently promoting a new novel titled Fury.
He is scheduled to hold public readings of his latest work in Vancouver and Toronto next week.
On Thursday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority in Washington issued an emergency directive banning Mr. Rushdie from all flights in and out of the United States, reflecting a heightened state of alert.
The FAA never explains why such directives are issued, and the authority did not return phone calls yesterday.
Mr. Rushdie's publicist at Random House did not return calls either, and the reasons for restricting the author's travels remain unknown.
Air Canada was supposed to fly Mr. Rushdie into Canada on Friday, but was forced to cancel his booking because of the FAA directive.
"It orders that extreme, constraining security measures be implemented on all flights on which Mr. Rushdie is booked to travel," Air Canada spokeswoman Priscille LeBlanc said in an interview.
The company sent a letter to the author and human-rights figure explaining the situation. "As a result of security measures imposed by civil-aviation authorities on any flight on which you hold a reservation, the implementation of which would likely cause considerable disruption to our operations and great inconvenience to our passengers, we regret to inform you that Air Canada cannot accept you as a passenger on its flights or that of its regional carriers," said an Air Canada document obtained by The Globe and Mail.
A violation of the FAA order would have meant the cancellation of Air Canada's flying licence in the United States. The carrier sent out a note to its front-line staff, warning them to block Mr. Rushdie from its planes.
"Should author Salman Rushdie attempt a reservation or present himself at an airport, he is not -- repeat not -- to be accepted for carriage," the document said.
Ms. LeBlanc said that another one of Mr. Rushdie's flights, booked on a U.S. carrier, was cancelled last week.
Organizers of literary festivals in Vancouver and Toronto said yesterday that they were not aware of Mr. Rushdie's latest security problems and could not say whether his appearance at their events was in jeopardy.
After Iranian authorities imposed a death sentence on Mr. Rushdie in 1989, British Airways banned the author from its flights because of security concerns.
That order was revoked in 1998, after Iran vowed that it would not carry out the fatwa against the author.
Ms. LeBlanc said that Mr. Rushdie has flown on Air Canada before, and would be welcomed back after the expiry of the FAA order.
"We'll be happy to accept him as a passenger again if there is a change to the security directives," she said.
Still, she emphasized that the security of all passengers was Air Canada's main concern.
In a recent interview, Mr. Rushdie said his life was getting close to normal.
"If you hang around with me for a few days, you'd notice my life is completely normal," he said. "Except when I'm being asked by journalists, I really don't think about it.
"I'm not an idiot and there's a sense in which I am aware of what happened, but in terms of how I lead my daily life, it doesn't really affect me any more."