Sci-fi author arrested in border fracas

Science fiction writer Peter Watts was pepper-sprayed and arrested after police said he became aggressive during an inspection on the US border, it emerged today.

Mr Watts, of Toronto, Canada, was detained on Tuesday in Port Huron, Michigan, US Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ron Smith said.

He said Mr Watts, whose books include Starfish, Maelstrom and Behemoth, known as the Rifters Trilogy, was trying to cross into Canada at Blue Water Bridge when his vehicle was selected for inspection.

Mr Smith said Mr Watts got out of the vehicle and became “non-compliant” and “aggressive”.

Mr Watts was on his way home after helping a friend move to the US, the Toronto Star said.

“I can state categorically that I did not choke anybody, I did not use profanity and did not raise my voice, I did not initiate any physical contact,” Mr Watts, who is also a marine biologist with a PhD in zoology, said, according to the Star.

“All I basically did was use words to ask what was going on.”

Friends were raising funds online to help Mr Watts cover his legal costs, with fellow sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow donating $1,000, the Star said.

Captain Jim Jones of Port Huron police told the Times Herald that Mr Watts appeared to be angry when officers inspected the black sport utility vehicle he was driving.

He said officers ordered Mr Watts back into the vehicle and when he refused, they tried to handcuff him. He said a scuffle followed in which Mr Watts choked one of the officers and an officer used pepper spray to subdue him.

Mr Smith said US attorney’s office declined to prosecute and that the case was turned over to city police in Port Huron, north east of Detroit.

Mr Watts was charged with assaulting, obstructing and resisting a police officer, according to St Clair County District Court records.

He was released on a €3,337 bond and will appear in court on December 22, the records said.

If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of €1,357.

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