Last week, Emily Badger reported on Hollman Morris being denied a student visa to study in the U.S. The Colombian journalist had been granted a yearlong Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, but the State Department rejected his visa application on nebulous grounds. The State Department has reversed its decision and to allow Morris a visa in the end.
Morris has been celebrated as a dedicated journalist whose bravery and determination in reporting on the civil war in Colombia had given him contacts among rebel guerrilla fighters (FARC) on terrorist watch lists. The State Department, citing the Patriot Act, blocked Morris' entry on the grounds that he was connected to terrorists.
In her piece, Badger questioned if such thinking might ultimately taint American journalists trying to fully report on national security topics.
As it stood, the State Department's move was criticized by individual journalists and groups including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and others. The continued lobbying of human rights and free-press advocacy organizations certainly aided in the reversal. Morris will be able to study at Harvard as originally planned and is due to arrive in coming weeks.