Dozens of foreign journalists working in the US for Voice of America will not have their visas extended once they expire, NPR reported Thursday, citing a trio of sources.
The report said that Michael Pack, President Trump’s newly appointed CEO of the Agency for Global Media, which oversees international broadcasting, indicated that he would not approve the visa extensions.
Pack on Wednesday also ordered the firing of ex-Radio Free Asia chief Bay Fang, whom Pack had previously demoted.
The foreign journalists are valued for their language skills, which are essential to the VOA’s mission as an international broadcaster that presents America’s take on the news to the world.
One VOA journalist told NPR that some of the foreign journalists forced to return home would likely face repercussions from their own countries’ governments that are hostile to the US.
Trump nominated Pack, an ally and documentary filmmaker, two years ago to be CEO of the international broadcasting agency but he was only confirmed by the Senate last month.
Pack quickly canned the directors of all the agency’s divisions: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Radio Free Asia; Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which oversees Radio and Television Martí; Middle East Broadcasting Networks, which runs Alhurra and Radio Sawa; and the Open Technology Fund, which promotes Internet access around the world.
The director and deputy director of Voice of America resigned shortly before Pack took office, saying he should be able to appoint his own team.
Trump and his administration have been highly critical of Voice of America.
The White House claimed in April that VOA had “amplified Beijing’s propaganda” by running an Associated Press article about COVID-19 policies in China, where the virus originated.