In a statement to POLITICO, Air Force spokesman Brig. General Patrick Ryder said the incident was a miscommunication and said the service would review the policy further.
Like all those serving in uniform, U.S. Air Force air crews are expected to protect classified information on board their aircraft. In line with a new policy, the air crew in this case applied a more restrictive approach to communication security, which led to a miscommunication regarding the use of personal electronic devices by reporters on the aircraft, Ryder said.
The policy will not apply to the journalist for the remainder of the trip, Ryder said.
We respect the role of a free press and welcome them on our flights. We’re sorry for the inconvenience this journalist caused and we will review the policy in the future.
The first journalist, who has covered the Pentagon for years and traveled to safe havens, including Iraq and Afghanistan with senior officials, was informed a few days ago that there might be a problem, but made sure they were working for resolve it and hopefully they could understand something, according to the person who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to do so.
During the flight, the pilot returned several times to explain to the public relations officer that the journalist could not use their phone at any time because the Deputy Secretary of Defense had to be ready at all times to receive a secure call. .
The reporter returned the phone after landing after an eight-hour flight. The MP, Kathleen Hicks, is traveling to Norway, the UK and Germany to meet with senior military and government leaders, including the heads of the US European Command and the US Command in Africa.
Journalists of many nationalities, usually those in the Pentagon press group who have a Pentagon badge and have undergone a history check, regularly accompany senior defense officials on official trips. They often travel to safe places and have access to classified information. Officials often inform reporters in and out of the recording during flights, and reporters usually send stories from the planes using their equipment.
Not only is it impossible to do my job without a phone and laptop, but it is also a bit offensive that after making dozens of trips over the last six years (many in more sensitive places) my phone has been taken down and there is not enough trust for it were able to get some sort of exception so I could continue writing stories on the plane, the reporter wrote in an email to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby, who was seen by POLITICO.
We have expressed our concern about this rule change in relation to members of the press who are not US citizens, who may have access to electronic devices while traveling with the US Department of Defense, and we are seeking further information on this matter. a Reuters spokesman told POLITICO.
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