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President Obama and Saudi King Abdullah in 2010. / Ron Edmonds AP

As President Obama prepares to visit Saudi Arabia, the White House is objecting to the Saudi denial of a visa to an Israel newspaper reporter seeking to cover the event.

Michael Wilner, the Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post, is the only journalist denied access to trip in which Obama will meet with King Abdullah.

"We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa," said Bernadette Meehan, spokesperson for the National Security Council. "We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision."

National Security Adviser Susan Rice and deputy Tony Blinken have raised the issue with Saudi counterparts.

Obama is scheduled to be in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

The White House Correspondents' Association also protested Wilner's exclusion, saying in a statement that "it is outrageous that the Saudi government has refused to allow a White House reporter entry to the country to cover this week's visit of President Barack Obama."

The WHCA called the denial "an affront not only to this journalist, but to the entire White House press corps and to the principle of freedom of the press that we hold so dear."

From The Jerusalem Post:

"Journalists attending the trip were required to submit visa forms to the White House, and not directly to the Saudi embassy. The Kingdom held Wilner's passport for two weeks, though their embassy's website claims turnaround for visas within 24 hours. ...

"Wilner, a Jewish American, works for the Israeli English-language newspaper, but does not hold Israeli citizenship and has never lived in the Jewish state. Saudi Arabia has no official relationship with the government of Israel."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama WH protests Saudi visa denial to Israel reporter

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