Today, a coalition of more than 20 U.S. news organizations – along with trade associations and other organizations whose missions support quality journalism and a free press, including the News Media Alliance – sent letters to President Joe Biden and the House and Senate Majority and Minority leaders in Congress, seeking humanitarian assistance with providing safe passage out of Afghanistan for a modest number of Afghans (<1,000) who have been working with U.S. media as journalists, interpreters, and support staff to provide coverage of Afghanistan. According to the letters, now that American troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, these individuals “fear retaliation from the Taliban for having courageously associated themselves with the American press.”
Specifically, the letters request that the President and Congress introduce a special visa program to allow these individuals and their families to find safety in the United States. The Special Immigration Visa program has been expanded to include Afghans who worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan, but does not include those assisting U.S. news organizations. Yet, according to the letters, “they and their families face the same threat of retaliation from the Taliban, which views the American press as a legitimate target” and “has long conducted a campaign of threatening and killing journalists.”
The letter outlines that Congress has previously granted such special consideration: In 2008, Iraqis who had worked with the U.S. news media – including journalists, support staff and their immediate family members – were given special consideration by President Bush and Congress.
The coalition urges the President and Congress to act quickly to allow the necessary time to create the program, secure the visas and remove these brave individuals from harm’s way and bring them to safety.
News organizations that signed onto the letter include:
- ABC News
- The Atlantic Monthly Group LLC
- The Boston Globe
- Buzzfeed, Inc.
- CBS News
- Center for Investigative Reporting, Inc. (d/b/a “Reveal”)
- Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
- First Look Institute, Inc. (“The Intercept”)
- FOX News Media
- Hearst Corporation
- Los Angeles Times Communications LLC
- The McClatchy Company, LLC
- National Public Radio, Inc.
- NBCUniversal News Group
- The New York Times Company
- The New Yorker
- Politico LLC
- Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
- VICE Media Group
- The Washington Post
Trade associations and other organizations that signed the letter include:
- Committee to Protect Journalists
- News Media Alliance
- Radio Televisión Digital News Association
- Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
The letter to President Biden can be found here, and the letter to House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, House Minority Leader McCarthy can be found here.