BOSTON, March 24 (UPI) -- An Afghan activist critical of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan has been denied a visa to visit the United States for a speaking tour, officials said.
Malalai Joya, 32, had been scheduled to speak at Harvard University and elsewhere as part of a three-week tour to promote her memoir, "A Woman Among Warlords," The Boston Globe reported Thursday.
The rejection of her visa application has sparked anger and protests in the United States.
"She is a truth-teller," said Ralph Lopez, 41, co-founder of the non-profit Afghanistan Peace Plan, at a rally in Harvard Square Wednesday. "That's why the Obama administration doesn't want her to come here."
Supporters said the visa rejection is odd because Joya has visited the United States annually since 2006.
"The denial of her visa seems to have come out of nowhere," said Sonali Kolhatkar, the co-director of the Afghan Women's Mission in Los Angeles, which organized Joya's last four U.S. book tours. "We are forced to conclude that it was politically motivated."
The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the specifics of Joya's visa application.
"Miss Joya is welcomed to apply again," said State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson. "If she would like a new review of her visa application, if she would like to go through the process again, submit her application; she's welcomed to reapply."