US Entry Ban on Israeli-British Journalist Jonathan Spyer Rescinded
A US entry ban on a Middle East correspondent with dual British and Israeli citizenship has been rescinded, following an outcry from media freedom advocates and policy experts who vouched for him.
Jonathan Spyer — whose war reporting from Syria and Iraq has been published by The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy and several Israeli outlets — posted a picture of his newly-issued US visa on Friday.
“My new US visa. Thanks to all who helped,” Spyer wrote.
In a Wall Street Journal oped published on Oct. 2, Spyer revealed that in August 2019 he received notification from the US State Department that he had been “banned for life from entering America.”
The decision was based on a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that “prohibits issuance of a visa to a person who at any time engaged in terrorist activities or was associated with a terrorist organization.”
Spyer pointed out that he had never been charged with a terrorism-related crime, and that his reporting duties had necessarily brought him into contact with Islamist terrorist organizations, including ISIS and Hamas.
“I spent time with them not to assist their cause, but to provide detailed and accurate information to readers about their nature, activities and beliefs,” he wrote.
Spyer speculated that his coverage of the Kurdish PKK militia that has fought Turkey since the 1970s was a critical factor in the ban.
“Although the specific basis of my exclusion from the US under Section 212 hasn’t been revealed to me, I suspect it may be my acquaintance with senior PKK officials, and that Turkish influence may be behind it,” Spyer wrote, noting it may also have been linked to the Turkish government’s wider mistreatment of journalists and hostility to the media.
My new US visa. Thanks to all who helped. pic.twitter.com/0K4WPwrWQK
— Jonathan Spyer (@jonathan_spyer) October 9, 2020