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U.S. Reviewing Policies After Reporter Evicted From Tashkent Event

  • RFE/RL

The U.S. State Department said it would review procedures for security agents after a Washington Post reporter who asked a question about Tashkent's human rights record was removed from a meeting in Uzbekistan between Secretary of State John Kerry and Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

Video of the November 1 incident showed Washington Post reporter Carol Morello trying to ask Karimov to respond to a recent U.S. State Department critique of Uzbekistan's dismal record on human rights.

As Kerry and Karimov were concluding a public session of a meeting in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, Morello asked: "Mr. President, would you take a question from the American press?"

Then, as she raised the issue of Uzbekistan's human rights record, agents who appeared to be from the U.S. State Department's diplomatic security agency, along with Uzbek guards, could be seen prodding Morello to leave, and a voice with an American accent could be heard saying, "No. Take her out."

The director of the State Department's press office, Elizabeth Trudeau, told reporters back in Washington on November 2 that U.S. State Department officials would review what happened.

"We're not perfect,” Trudeau said. “We're going to take a look at what happened. We take this seriously, and if there are things that we need to do [so as] to do our job better, we will."

Trudeau said the event in Tashkent was not a press conference, where reporters are allowed to ask questions but rather a photo opportunity, when photographers and other journalists are allowed into a portion of the meeting.

However, it is routine in the United States for journalists to shout out questions during such photo opportunities by public officials.

Trudeau said on November 2: "From my understanding, it was at the very end of the [photo opportunity. The reporters] were actually being physically escorted out. I am not sure if there was touching involved. They were physically escorted out and then someone [among the reporters] turned around and shouted a question. I do not know enough that I can characterize it as that. But we are looking at it."

Human rights activists had urged Kerry to press Karimov on his country's horrific record of rampant rights abuses.

With reporting from AP and Reuters