Washington: The US State Department has barred a journalist from the press pool for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's upcoming foreign trip, without providing a reason for the removal, it was reported on Tuesday.
In a statement on Monday, the Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR) confirmed that its journalist Michele Kelemen, who has covered the State Department for nearly two decades, would not be allowed to travel with Pompeo on the government flight to Europe and Central Asia, the BBC said in a report.
The trip starts on Thursday.
The radio network said it was not given a reason behind Kelemen's ban.
In response to the decision, Shaun Tandon, head of the State Department Correspondents' Association (SDCA) said: "The State Department press corps has a long tradition of accompanying secretaries of state on their travels and we find it unacceptable to punish an individual member of our association.
"We respectfully ask the State Department to reconsider and allow Michele to travel on the plane for this trip."
Monday's development comes days after a tense NPR interview with Pompeo where he was repeatedly asked about Ukraine and ousted US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, according to the BBC report.
On January 24, NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly asked Pompeo whether he defended or should have defended Yovanovitch, whose removal was a key factor leading to the impeachment of President Donald Trump by the Democratic-led House of Representatives last month.
Kelly said that, after the nine-minute interview, she was taken by a Pompeo aide to his private living room where he shouted at her, cursed repeatedly and asked: "Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?"
However, the post-interview exchange was not recorded.