WASHINGTON — The White House Correspondents Association sent a stern condemnation to Saudi Arabia Tuesday after government officials there denied a visa to the Jerusalem Post’s White House reporter who planned to travel there and cover President Obama’s upcoming visit.
“It is outrageous that the Saudi government has refused to allow a White House reporter entry to the country to cover this week’s visit of President Barack Obama,” WHCA president and McClatchy reporter Steve Thomma said in a statement. “The denial is an affront not only to this journalist, but to the entire White House press corps and to the principle of freedom of the press that we hold so dear.”
Thomma joined the Obama administration in criticizing the Saudi visa denial.
“We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa,” an administration spokesperson told The Huffington Post. “We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision.”
The Jerusalem Post reported its White House correspondent, Michael Wilner, was denied a visa to enter Saudi Arabia “despite firmly-worded requests from U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice and assistant to the president Tony Blinken to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.”
In the WHCA statement, Thomma said that Wilner was the only White House reporter to be denied a Saudi visa to cover Obama’s visit.
“Michael Wilner, who covers the White House for the Jerusalem Post, had signed up to cover the visit and sought a visa along with the rest of the White House Press corps,” he said. “On Monday, he was the only one denied a visa. He had planned to travel straight to Saudi Arabia to cover that part of the president’s trip.”