How James Lasdun Found Himself Victimized by Anti-Semitic Cyber-Stalker

Writing Was Author's Escape From Non-Stop Online Abuse

Kurt Hoffman

By Naomi Zeveloff

Published February 25, 2013, issue of March 01, 2013.
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Today, the situation is being investigated by Thomas Fisch, a detective in the New York City Police Department’s hate crimes unit. (Fisch said that he is unable to comment on the case, because it is an “active investigation.”) On May 22, 2012, Nasreen wrote the freelance editor an email: “I just filed a police report against [my brother] and James. If James lies, I will find a way to NY to murder him I’m serious…. Your bloodcult is s—t.” According to Lasdun, this was the first time Nasreen threatened him with murder (her other violent emails he describes in the book as “death wishes,” but not quite death threats), and, he said, it tipped the case into more serious legal territory. According to Lasdun, Fisch now felt that he could extradite Nasreen to New York from California to stand trial.

Lasdun was eager to take this step, thinking that it would finally bring the case on track to a resolution. But his agent said that she and the freelance editor, both Manhattanites, trembled at the idea of Nasreen roaming the city before her potential trial. The extradition was put on hold.

Lasdun says he hasn’t received a phone call from Nasreen since August, and he has blocked her various email addresses so that any messages go straight to delete. Though he is under no illusion that the stalking is over for good, he says that writing has freed him. According to Spitzberg, this is often the case for stalking victims who go public with their stories. Sometimes, taking out a temporary restraining order against a stalker can make the stalking intensify. But for the victim, there is a “high satisfaction rate,” a feeling of being legitimized. Writing a book can have the same effect. “It’s probably a tactical error in terms of the stalking, but it’s part of the healing process for the victim.”

“I thought it was very brave of him to write this book,” said Ellen Ullman, a computer programmer and novelist who deals with issues of technology and obsession in her books. “I wondered what would happen to him after this and if it would make it worse, if it would make her feel pleased at what a huge reaction she had produced in him,” Ullman said.

I asked Lasdun if he is worried that Nasreen will rear her head again if she learns about the book. “What is the point of keeping quiet about it?” he said. “How much worse can it get?”

Naomi Zeveloff is the deputy culture editor of the Forward. She can be reached at zeveloff@forward.com or on Twitter @NaomiZeveloff


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