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State Dept. Bans NPR Reporter on Flight01/28 06:56

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department has denied a National Public Radio 
reporter a seat aboard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's plane for an upcoming 
trip to Europe and Central Asia, the decision coming a few days after Pompeo 
lashed out at another NPR reporter.

   NPR said in a statement Monday that correspondent Michele Kelemen wasn't 
given a reason for being barred from the flight. The State Department declined 
to comment. 

   The State Department Correspondents' Association said the decision to deny 
Kelemen a seat on Pompeo's plane led it to conclude that "the State Department 
is retaliating" against NPR. The group asked the agency to reconsider and allow 
Kelemen to join Pompeo.

   In an interview Friday, Pompeo responded testily when NPR reporter Mary 
Louise Kelly asked him about Ukraine and, specifically, whether he defended or 
should have defended Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador in Kyiv 
whose ouster figured in President Donald Trump's impeachment. 

   Kelly said that after the NPR interview she was taken to Pompeo's private 
living room, where he shouted at her "for about the same amount of time as the 
interview itself" and cursed repeatedly. 

   Pompeo responded Saturday that Kelly had "lied" to him, and he called her 
conduct "shameful." NPR said it stood by Kelly's reporting.

   In its statement Monday, the correspondents' group said Kelemen "is a 
consummate professional who has covered the State Department for nearly two 
decades. We respectfully ask the State Department to reconsider and allow 
Michele to travel on the plane for this trip."

   Ben Wizner, director of the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project for the 
American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement: "The State Department 
cannot retaliate against a news outlet because one of its reporters asked tough 
questions. It is the job of reporters to ask the tough questions, not be polite 
company."  


(KR)

 
 
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