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VOA to Fire 3 Employees Over Controversial Interview With Chinese Dissident

Image: VOA to Fire 3 Employees Over Controversial Interview With Chinese Dissident
A Twitter page of Chinese exiles businessman Guo Wengui is seen on a computer screen in Beijing, Aug. 30, 2017. (Andy Wong/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 15 Nov 2017 08:13 AM

Three employees of The Voice of America haven been notified the broadcaster intends to dismiss them for interviewing a controversial Chinese dissident, The Washington Free Beacon is reporting.

Sasha Gong, Fred Wang, and Robert Li are all in the VOA's Chinese language division, according to the Free Beacon. They each were notified by letters on Nov. 3 that the VOA plans to fire them for alleged insubordination and violating the radio's reporting rules, the website said.

The three employees, plus another worker, were suspended in April, the Free Beacon reported. The fourth employee is back at work for VOA, but at a lesser position, the website said.

VOA and the State Department had been under pressure to cancel an interview with Guo Wengui, an exiled billionaire living in New York, the Free Beacon said. The website claimed Guo had been targeted by China in an effort to stop his disclosure of high-level corruption and intelligence activities.

Gong, who was chief of VOA's China division, said those facing dismissal will appeal.

"VOA cited ‘insubordination' as the reason to fire me," she told the Free Beacon. "There are two facts they never mention. One, my interview plan was approved by the management. It was the management who wanted to change the plan under the pressure of the Chinese government."

And she claimed there had been differences between VOA management in Washington and reporters in New York.

The planned three-hour interview with Guo was stopped after one hour and twenty minutes on April 19, the Free Beacon noted. The VOA later said the cutoff was due to an internal miscommunication, the website said.

"I firmly believe that the VOA management caved into the pressure of the Chinese government," Gong said. "It is absurd that Voice of America, a federal agency, would listen to Beijing, and join forces with the Chinese communists to persecute journalists."

In an earlier interview with CNBC, she claimed Chinese authorities had met with VOA's Beijing's correspondent two days before the interview and specifically asked for it to be canceled.

A statement by the VOA said an investigation determined the broadcaster's actions were not a result of any pressure from the Chinese government, but were intended to enforce industry-wide journalistic practices.

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Three employees of The Voice of America haven been notified the broadcaster intends to dismiss them for interviewing a controversial Chinese dissident, The Washington Free Beacon is reporting.
voa, fire, employees, radio, interview, controversial
372
2017-13-15
Wednesday, 15 Nov 2017 08:13 AM
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