Syria’s embassy in Washington was silent for a second day on the Middle East nation’s rejection of WND bureau chief Aaron Klein’s visa – reportedly because he’s Jewish – while the U.S. State Department said it would take no action.
Embassy press attach? Ammar al-Arsan did not return phone calls from WND Thursday and yesterday.
U.S. State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said he had no response to the matter, other than to refer WND to the agency’s human rights report and international religious freedom report on Syria, where the nation’s poor record on those issues is “pretty clear.”
“If Syria chooses to deny somebody a visa, unfortunately, there is not much we can do,” Vazquez explained.
Pointing out that the U.S. sometimes chooses to press issues of this nature, Vazquez was asked if this case would be brought up with Damascus.
“I guess I would just say to that … Syria is aware of our concerns on these types of issues,” he said.
Vasquez said he did not know of other instances of Syria rejecting Americans because they are Jews.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Klein, radio host John Batchelor producer Lee Mason were told by the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, that problems had been found with their visa applications. 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.
Klein planned to be in Damascus Thursday night to interview officials from Syria, Lebanon and the U.S., as well as co-host ABC Radio’s nationally syndicated “The John Batchelor Show.”
Now in Amman, Jordan, Klein is appealing directly to Syria’s ambassador to Washington Imad Moustapha for travel documents, and Batchelor is challenging the diplomat to come on the radio show to explain why Klein’s visa was denied.
Batchelor broadcast Thursday night’s program from the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Amman, one of three Jordan hotels hit by al-Qaida bombing attacks last month. Batchelor focused the program on Syria’s blatant racism, a possible factor in Moustapha’s failure to make a scheduled appearance on the show Thursday night.
On Monday, al-Arsan told Klein his visa, and visas for Batchelor and Mason, were approved by Damascus and would be available at the Syrian embassy in Amman. But when the trio arrived in the Jordanian capital, they were told there was a problem with the application. Later, visas for Batchelor and Mason were granted but not for Klein.
By telephone, Klein spoke to an official from the Ministry of Information in Damascus who declined to provide his name. At first he refused to suggest why Klein had been singled out and prevented from entering the country. Later, however, he asked: “What religion are you?”
Klein said he refused to answer.
“You know what you are,” said the official.
Mason, who made the initial arrangements for visas with Syrian media representative al-Arsan, said a red flag immediately was raised when Klein’s name was mentioned.
Al-Arsan reportedly told her it would be better if Klein did not go. She asked if it was because he is Jewish. Al-Arsan replied: “Yes, it is.”
Batchelor and Mason decided to leave the Syrian embassy without their visas.
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