White House ‘Disappointed’ Over Saudi Refusal to Admit Jewish Journalist

THE HAGUE (Reuters) -

The White House on Tuesday said it was “deeply disappointed” that Saudi Arabia had denied a visa to a U.S. citizen working for Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post to cover President Barack Obama’s trip to the kingdom later this week.

Saudi Arabia does not formally recognize Israel.

“We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa,” White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. “We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision.”

The Post said that national security adviser Susan Rice and her deputy, Tony Blinken, had expressed displeasure to Saudi Arabia over the delay in processing reporter Michael Wilner’s application and its potential refusal.

The paper said Wilner, the only journalist denied access to the president’s trip, is a Jewish American who does not hold Israeli citizenship and has never lived in Israel.

Reached for comment by phone, the Saudi counselor would only say that “the decision has been made” and declined to elaborate further. Obama administration officials privately acknowledged the media outlet was discriminated against.