U.S. condemns Saudi Arabia’s denial of visa to Jerusalem Post reporter covering Obama

The White House has condemned Saudi Arabia for denying a visa to the Jerusalem Post's Washington bureau chief, who is traveling with President Obama.

Reporter Michael Wilner, an American, had planned to accompany Obama to Saudi Arabia later this week, but he was denied a visa Monday.

"We were very disappointed by the Saudi decision," White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters on Air Force One. "It certainly should not be the case that the affiliation of a journalist should in any way count against their ability to do their job, just because they work for the Jerusalem Post."

Rhodes said the White House reiterated the importance of having Wilner on the trip. Rhodes called for more transparency when the countries have differences.

"We believe its better to have the type of relationship where we can cooperate but also be clear and honest with one another where we have differences."

In an e-mailed statement, Wilner said he is an American journalist covering the president. 

"We consider it unfortunate that Saudi Arabia would deny any legitimate reporter the ability to complete that work— much less one properly credentialed, in the White House press corps, expressly invited on the trip. We have little doubt that my access was denied either because of my media affiliation or because of my religion. That is a grave disappointment, and a lost opportunity for the Kingdom," he said.

A spokesman for a the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not answer a call seeking comment.

The White House Correspondents' Association called the denial "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."

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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