Call to relax US travel restrictions on journalists

A global coalition of free press organisations has asked the US to ease travel restrictions on foreign journalists.

In recent months journalists from the UK, France, Mexico, Japan, Austria and other countries have been detained at US airports, handcuffed and expelled from the US for not having visas.

US Customs officials had routinely waived the visa requirement in the past, but that changed after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organisations, meeting in Geneva, cited the detention and expulsion of foreign journalists from the US in recent months and said that journalists should be included in the US visa waiver program for visitors from friendly countries.

“Keeping journalists out of the United States damages the US image as an open society,” the committee said in a resolution, which asked the US Congress to include journalists in the many professions that do not need a visa for their stays in the US.

The members of the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organisations that signed the resolution are the Inter American Press Association, the International Association of Broadcasting, the International Federation of the Periodical Press, the International Press Institute, the North American Broadcasters Association, the World Association of Newspapers and the World Press Freedom Committee.

By Jon Slattery

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