New York Times reveals it turned to Irish government to save journalist

The New York Times says it was forced to turn to Ireland when the Trump administration refused to come to the aid of one of their journalists.

New York Times publisher AG Sulzberger revealed the incident during a speech at Brown University and in an op-ed published on Tuesday.

Mr Sulzberger said two years ago the paper was warned by a US government official that Egypt planned to seize and arrest its Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh.

Mr Walsh, an Irish citizen, who studied in both University College Dublin (UCD) and Dublin City University (DCU) has previously worked for the Sunday Business Post, The Guardian, and was Pakistan bureau chief for his current employer before moving to Egypt.

“This particular call took a surprising and distressing turn. We learned the official was passing along this warning without the knowledge or permission of the Trump administration,” Mr Sulzberger wrote.

“Rather than trying to stop the Egyptian government or assist the reporter, the official believed, the Trump administration intended to sit on the information and let the arrest be carried out. The official feared being punished for even alerting us to the danger.

“Unable to count on our own government to prevent the arrest or help free Declan if he were imprisoned, we turned to his native country, Ireland, for help.

“Within an hour, Irish diplomats travelled to his house and safely escorted him to the airport before Egyptian forces could detain him.”

Mr Walsh confirmed the story on his social media, adding that the warning came after a story he had written about the death of an Italian student in the Egyptian capital, and when he had called the US embassy, he was directed to speak to the Irish embassy instead.

“The Irish ambassador sent a diplomat to my apartment who arrived in an hour,” Mr Walsh said.

“The diplomat drove to Cairo airport where I took the first available flight to Europe. Weeks later, I returned to Egypt unhindered and resumed work.

“Lastly, I owe a belated thanks an Irish diplomat who rushed to help in a tight spot. He was cool, swift and fearless. And to someone in Washington who took a risk to reach out.”

Donald Trump
Donald Trump has been hostile towards the US media (Brian Lawless/PA)

A source in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed to the PA news agency that the incident had taken place, but the department would not be releasing any official statement on the matter.

US President Donald Trump has attacked the press on numerous occasions, with a particular dislike for the New York Times, which is often the subject of his tweets and critique on the media.

Since assuming office, Mr Trump has tweeted about “fake news” nearly 600 times.

Mr Sulzberger used the incident to highlight the dangers of Mr Trump’s rhetoric on the press by adding: “In attacking American media, President Trump has done more than undermine his own citizens’ faith in the news organisations attempting to hold him accountable. He has effectively given foreign leaders permission to do the same with their countries’ journalists.”

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