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Journalists sue U.S. broadcasting arm for wrongful dismissal under Trump

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Seven foreign journalists working for the U.S. Agency for Global Media who were fired by the Trump administration have sued the agency for breach of contract and wrongful termination.

The journalists argue in their complaints that their careers and livelihoods have been significantly hurt by being fired and are seeking back pay. Most also claim that USAGM deceitfully backdated termination documents to make it appear that the agency was following the proper procedures for how to hasten their departure. Three of the seven who have filed suit, Valdaya Baraputri of Indonesia and Paula Alves Silva and Julia Riera of Spain, were forced to leave the country.

The complaints note that Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who was installed as CEO of government-run media group USAGM in June 2020, expressed his distrust of foreign journalists working for the various broadcast entities under the USAGM umbrella and refused to renew more than 30 of their visas, causing them to lose their jobs. In an August 2020 interview with The Federalist, cited in the complaint, Pack said that being “a journalist is a great cover for a spy” and said that J-1 visa holders might try to “penetrate” USAGM.

Another of the journalists filing suit is Carolina Valladares Perez, a former war correspondent in the Middle East who previously had worked for the BBC, earning high performance reviews and a $4,000 bonus in her work as a broadcast journalist for Voice of America’s Spanish service. After USAGM did not sponsor a renewal of her visa in August 2020, she was soon fired, according to her lawsuit.

“Plaintiff has since disappeared from the news radar, which has had devastating consequences,” her complaint says, noting that she’s only made a few thousand dollars in freelance work since. “With no show or time on-air, it has been extremely difficult to find a position as a news anchor. Over time, the audience forgets........

© Politico

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