People enter the State Department Building in Washington, US, January 26, 2017. — Reuters/File

People enter the State Department Building in Washington, US, January 26, 2017. — Reuters/File
  • US issues statement after Kashmiri journalists stopped at airport.
  • India had prevented Sanna Irshad Mattoo from flying to US to collect her Pulitzer Prize.
  • Mattoo was awarded Pulitzer Prize for documenting life in IIOJK.

WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Thursday reminded India that the “respect for the independence of press” was a bedrock of its ties with Washington.

“Yeah, we are aware of the reports of Ms Mattoo being prevented from traveling to the US and are tracking these developments closely. We are committed to supporting press freedom,” said State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel during a press briefing.

The official said that the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has noted that US-India relationship ‘s bedrock are the “shared commitment to democratic values, including the respect for the independence of press”.

When asked if the US had taken up the matter with the Indian foreign ministry, Patel said that he was not aware of it and cannot speak on any “diplomatic engagements” on the issue.

India stops Kashmiri photographer from flying to US

Earlier this week, Indian authorities prevented an award-winning photographer Sanna Irshad Mattoo from flying to the United States to collect her Pulitzer Prize, making her the latest person among several Kashmiri journalists barred from leaving the country.

Mattoo was one of four journalists working for Reuters news agency that took home the prestigious award for feature photography this year.

The 28-year-old has won plaudits for documenting life in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

Mattoo was stopped by immigration authorities at New Delhi airport late Tuesday and prevented from boarding while two of her colleagues were permitted to leave the country.

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