(Washington, DC) — In a letter sent today to the head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, or USAGM, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden expressed concern about the agency potentially not renewing visas of foreign journalists employed by outlets like Voice of America.

PEN America joins Sen. Wyden in expressing grave concern over the potential expiration of these visas, and urges USAGM CEO Michael Pack to facilitate their renewals.

“The strength, sustainability, and ultimate success of the U.S. Agency for Global Media depends on foreign journalists, without whom the agency could not provide its global, fact-based reporting or support democratic principles abroad” said Thomas O. Melia, PEN America’s Washington director. “With their crucial in-country knowledge and language skills, these reporters constitute the lifeblood of USAGM. A refusal to renew their visas would not only put these journalists at risk—forcing them to travel during a pandemic and return to countries with governments often hostile towards their work—but would also inhibit the agency’s ability to adequately report at a time of global upheaval. We thank Sen. Wyden for sending this letter, and urge Michael Pack to continue USAGM’s critical work by, first and foremost, ensuring that experienced foreign journalists can continue their work.”

Read our previous statement on the reported decision not to renew USAGM visas here.