Michael Wilner is the Jerusalem Post‘s reporter based in Washington, and its White House correspondent. He is an American Jew who does not have Israeli citizenship and has never lived in Israel.
About midday on Monday, March 24, Wilner tweeted, “Saudi Arabia has denied me a visa to cover Obama’s trip this week.”
Wilner is the only journalist in the press corps who was denied entry by Saudi Arabia.
The White House declined to comment publicly, but the Jerusalem Post reported that U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice specifically requested that the visa be granted. Tony Blinken, a special assistant to President Obama, was also reported to have issued a request to Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S.
In another Twitter exchange, Wilner answered a reporter from AL Monitor who queried, “Any idea why?” [he was denied the visa.] “not the faintest idea” Wilner tweeted back.
In a Politico report of the incident, Wilner is quoted as commenting via email, “U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is a central pillar of our newspaper’s coverage – this trip was important to us. We can only assume Saudi Arabia’s decision was based on discriminatory principles.”
“Obama administration officials privately acknowledged the media outlet was discriminated against,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
Wilner is a 2011 graduate of Claremont Mckenna College and also attended Columbia University.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus