State Dept. cancels award for journalist who criticized Trump: report

A Finnish journalist says the U.S. State Department rescinded a journalism award given to her because she criticized the Trump administration.

Foreign Policy magazine reported Thursday that Jessikka Aro was initially notified by the State Department that she would be receiving the International Women of Courage Award, but that those plans were later scrapped due to what an agency spokesperson called a "regrettable error."

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“Due to a lack of coordination in communications with candidates and our embassies, a regrettable error was made and a candidate was incorrectly notified that she had been selected as a finalist. We regret this error. We admire Ms. Aro’s achievements as a journalist, which were the basis of U.S. Embassy Helsinki’s nomination,” a spokesperson told The Hill in an email.

But an unnamed State Department official familiar with the discussions told Foreign Policy that Aro's award was rescinded over her past criticism of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE.

There's no indication, according to the magazine, that Trump or Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS sanctions Venezuelan bank after Guaidó aide's arrest The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE, who presents the awards, were aware of Aro's nomination or the rescinding of her award.

“It created a shitstorm of getting her unceremoniously kicked off the list,” the State Department source told Foreign Policy. “I think it was absolutely the wrong decision on so many levels."

The decision “had nothing to do with her work," the official added.

Aro told the magazine that it was "scary" to see the U.S. government allow "pettiness" to affect public decisionmaking.

“[When] I was informed about the withdrawal out of the blue, I felt appalled and shocked,” Aro told the magazine. “The reality in which political decisions or presidential pettiness directs top U.S. diplomats’ choices over whose human rights work is mentioned in the public sphere and whose is not is a really scary reality.”

Updated at 11:27 a.m.