https://www.mediaite.com/news/reuters-reporter-calls-out-pentagon-for-seizing-his-phone-on-trip-incomprehensible/

A Reuters reporter called out the Pentagon on Monday for seizing his phone during a trip with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

Foreign policy correspondent Idrees Ali posted in a Twitter thread about the incident:

“Yesterday on an official trip with Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Hicks, my phone was confiscated by a DoD official, locked up and I was stopped from using electronics because of a new policy that bars non-US reporters from using devices on govt planes,” he tweeted.

Ali said that this is the first time that such a thing has happened in his career.

“This policy was the first time I had experienced this after covering dozens of Pentagon trips across three administrations. It means that we can’t do the very thing I’m supposed to on these trips, which is write stories,” he tweeted.

Ali also lamented the precedent the incident would set for the press traveling with government officials.

“It would mean that any non-US reporter traveling with the Pentagon, State Department or even POTUS (depending on the plane being used) would have no access to electronics to file on the plane, a totally incomprehensible policy,” he tweeted.

However, the Pentagon reversed course and apologized, according to Ali.

“Since the incident yesterday morning and to their credit, the Pentagon has apologized and said my phone will not be taken from again and the new U.S. Air Force policy is being reviewed,” he tweeted.

A Reuters spokesperson told Politico, “We have expressed our concern about this rule change regarding members of the press who are non-U.S. citizens being able to access electronic devices during travel with the U.S. Department of Defense and are seeking further information on the issue.”

Air Force spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told Politico that the incident was a “miscommunication.”

“Like everyone serving in uniform, U.S. Air Force aircrews are expected to protect classified information aboard their aircraft,” he said. “In accordance with a new policy, the aircrew in this case applied a more restrictive approach to communication security, which led to a miscommunication about the reporter’s use of personal electronic devices on the aircraft.”

“We respect the role of a free press and welcome them aboard our flights,” added Ryder. “We regret the inconvenience we caused this reporter, and we will be reviewing the policy going forward.”

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