By Rebecca Shabad - 03/25/14 04:21 PM EDT
The White House Correspondent’s Association (WHCA) on Tuesday called Saudi Arabia’s decision to deny a visa to a member of its press corps “outrageous.”
On Monday, the Saudi government rejected a request for an entry visa to the Jerusalem Post’s Washington bureau chief Michael Wilner.
He had applied to cover the last leg of President Obama’s overseas trip, who is slated to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
“It is outrageous that the Saudi government has refused to allow a White House reporter entry to the country to cover this week’s visit of President Barack Obama,” WHCA President Steve Thomma said in a statement.
Wilner was the only journalist in the press corps who was denied a visa.
“The denial is an affront not only to this journalist, but to the entire White House press corps and to the principle of freedom of the press that we hold so dear,” Thomma added.
The Saudi government held onto Wilner’s passport for two weeks instead of the 24 hours the embassy website claims is the turnaround, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The White House also weighed in on the situation.
“We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa,” said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council. “We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision."
When the Jerusalem Post got a member of the Saudi government on the phone, the official said “the decision has been made,” and wouldn’t elaborate further.
White House officials privately acknowledged to the newspaper that it was being discriminated against.
Wilner is a Jewish American who doesn’t hold Israeli citizenship and has never lived in Israel. He was scheduled to arrive in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh on Wednesday.