US: Aware of reports, closely tracking Pulitzer winner Kashmiri journalist’s case

The United State is aware of reports of Pulitzer- winning Kashmiri journalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo allegedly being prevented from travelling to the country, a State Department official said.

The US has stated that it is committed to press freedom and is closely monitoring the case of Pulitzer Prize winner Sanna Irshad Mattoo, a journalist from Kashmir who claimed that immigration officials in New Delhi prevented her from travelling to New York to accept her award despite having a valid passport and US visa.

On Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the case made an impression as well. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, US Congressman Adam Schiff, expressed his “disturbing” reaction to learning that Mattoo was prevented from flying to accept the Pulitzer Prize and that “efforts to intimidate and muzzle the media” must stop.

Schiff is a prominent member of the Democratic Party and is thought to be close to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House.

“We are aware of the reports of Ms Mattoo being prevented from travelling to the US and are tracking these developments closely. We are committed to supporting press freedom. And as the Secretary has noted, a shared commitment to democratic values, including respect for the independence of the press, is bedrock of the US-India relationship. But I don’t have any other specifics to offer, but we are tracking this closely,” Patel said at a regular departmental press briefing on Wednesday.

Patel may have been alluding to comments made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a press conference with Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar on September 27.

Blinken then said, “We have to work together to show that our democracies can meet our people’s needs, and we must continue to hold ourselves – both of us, as well as our fellow democracies – to our core values, including respect for universal human rights like freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, which makes our democracies stronger.”

Schiff tweeted that he was “disturbed to hear Kashmiri journalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo was barred from flying to accept a Pulitzer for her coverage of COVID-19’s toll in India”.

“Freedom of the press is bedrock of any democracy. India should be no exception. Efforts to harass and silence the media must end.”

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