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State Department Criticized in Congress for Barring J.t.a. from Briefing

Democratic Congressman William F. Ryan of New York told the House of Representatives today that the barring of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s chief Washington correspondent, Milton Friedman, from a State Department briefing on the Arab Refugee question was “nothing less than a blatant effort to pressure a respected newsman to write in a manner more to the Department’s liking.”

In a speech on the floor of the House, Mr. Ryan said he was filing a written protest to Secretary of State Dean Rusk over what he termed “an incredible incident” and he urged his colleagues to do likewise.

Calling Mr. Friedman a “distinguished expert on Jewish affairs,” Mr. Ryan warned that the action taken against the JTA correspondent could be repeated against other “responsible” reporters whose writings displease the Department.

Congressman Ryan recounted to the House the sequence of events leading up to the barring of Mr. Friedman on January 28 by Robert C. Strong, director of the Department’s Office on Near Eastern Affairs, who conducted the session for correspondents.

Pointing to the fact that JTA has always enjoyed full status as a news gathering agency, Mr. Ryan termed “ridiculous” the contention by Mr. Strong that the citing of JTA dispatches by Israeli diplomats in their discussions with him or members of his staff was evidence that the news agency was in the service of a foreign power. “The same could be said of the New York Times or any other medium whose reports are quoted in diplomatic discussions,” said Rep. Ryan.

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