Science Fiction author Peter Watts (pictured), whose work has also appeared in videogames, was detained at the U.S./Canadian border last week after a dispute with U.S. Customs officers.
The Toronto-based author was returning to Canada, reports the Times Herald, using the Blue Water Bridge crossing when he was apparently selected for a random inspection.
This is where the story takes two different tangents depending on which side is offering the account.
Watts asserts that as the inspection began, he exited the car to ask officers what was going on. He claims they asked him to return to the car, at which point he asked them again what they were doing. Watts said that this act then resulted in him being assaulted, punched in the face, pepper-sprayed and thrown in jail for the night on charges of assaulting a customs officer.
Custom officials claim that Watts was “aggressive” from the beginning and refused to get back in his car. At this point Watts was about to be handcuffed, but resisted arrest said officials, and tried to choke an officer. This is when officers used pepper-spray.
Watts was arraigned last Wednesday, December 9, and released on $5,000 bond. He claims his computer was seized and he was released across the border in shirtsleeves.
On his blog, Watts categorically denies choking an officer and says he “looks forward” to seeing security camera footage of the incident. He is due back in court on December 22 for a preliminary injunction. If convicted, Watts faces up to two years in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
BoingBoing’s Cory Doctrow has jumped to Watts’ defense, donating $1,000 to his legal defense.
Watts contributed to Relic Entertainment’s Homeworld 2 and also served as a writer and art consultant for Crytek on the upcoming Crysis 2.