WorldNetDaily Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein, sitting in Amman, Jordan, because a promised visa to visit Damascus has been denied by the Syrian embassy, is appealing directly to Syria’s ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, requesting travel documents be issued and challenging the diplomat to appear on the air to explain the reason he’s been denied entry.
Klein planned to be in Syria last night to interview officials from Syria – including Moustapha – Lebanon and the U.S., as well as co-host ABC Radio’s nationally syndicated “The John Batchelor Show.”
As previously reported by WorldNetDaily, Klein, Batchelor and Batchelor’s producer Lee Mason were told by the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, problems had been found with their visa application. While Batchelor and Mason finally received approval to leave for Damascus, Klein was told by Syrian officials his visa may have been rejected because he is Jewish.
The Syrian embassy in Washington did not respond yesterday to WorldNetDaily’s request for an official explanation.
Today, Klein went directly to Ambassador Moustapha by letter, asking whether his being Jewish was cause for his exclusion from Syria:
As you may know, I am Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com, one of the most popular news sites on the Internet, and am currently and unexpectedly staying in Amman, Jordan, where I am co-hosting ABC Radio’s “The John Batchelor Show” after I was denied a journalist visa from your embassy in Jordan yesterday while the host of the show was approved.
My colleagues and I have been told by Syrian officials that my visa may have been rejected because I am Jewish. One official in your embassy reportedly suggested I should not apply for a visa because my Jewish faith was a problem.
I am hereby resubmitting directly to you a request for a journalist visa to immediately enter and report from Syria. You are also being asked to join “The Batchelor Show” tonight to explain to the audience why my visa was rejected. You had agreed to join the show last night at 10:20 p.m. EST, but several attempts by the studios in New York to reach you at that time were unsuccessful. I personally tried to call the number you provided at that time as well.
Batchelor broadcast last night’s program from the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Amman, one of three Jordan hotels hit by al-Qaida bombing attacks last month. Batchelor dedicated the program to the story of Syria’s blatant racism, a possible factor in Moustapha’s failure to make his scheduled appearance on the show.
Mr. Ambassador, an objective look at the facts seem to indicate my journalist visa was rejected because of my Jewish faith and my “Jewish sounding name.” I certainly hope this is not the case. I hope this is all one big misunderstanding.
I … regularly travel throughout the world. I am granted visas and press credentials without incident. I was told yesterday by Ammar al-Arsan, the press attach? in your embassy, visa applications do not inquire about religion, so, he explained, my Jewish faith cannot be the issue. However, Mr. Ambassador, question six of the visa application I was asked to fill out asks for my religion.
Please respond to my request for a journalist visa application within 24 hours.
Batchelor and Klein have broadcast from various Mideast hot spots all week. Batchelor, New York City’s No. 1 rated nighttime talk-show host, quickly achieved the highest ratings on WABC-AM during the aftermath of 9-11 with his insightful and passionate debate surrounding the war on terrorism. Batchelor began national syndication in March 2003, and can now be heard on over 30 affiliated stations, including WABC 770 in New York, WMAL 630 in Washington, WKRO 680 in Boston and WWBA 1040 in Tampa – all of which provide Internet links for listening to the program online.