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Reporter sues White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre after credentials revoked

Ateba has been at the center of tense situations within the briefing room.

Published: August 14, 2023 9:16am

Updated: August 14, 2023 1:05pm

Today News Africa's White House correspondent Simon Ateba has filed a lawsuit against White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the Secret Service alleging his credentials were illegally revoked.

The lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of Ateba by the Center for American Liberty, a nonprofit founded by lawyer and Republican Party official Harmeet Dhillon.

The complaint argues the White House adopted stringent criteria for press credentials in May 2023, violating Ateba's First Amendment rights by excluding him from briefings without a compelling reason.

In addition, the complaint argues that when Ateba had a press badge, Jean-Pierre "completely ignored" his questions during briefings and "he submitted written requests for information and comment – but he was shut out from any real access to the White House’s happenings."

Ateba then "began to speak up during the briefings to make his voice impossible to ignore," according to the suit.

It is unclear whether this was cited by the White House as reasoning for not allowing him to renew his badge, but the Center said in the complaint that his badge was terminated "without any explanation, let alone reasoned explanation."

Ateba has been at the center of tense situations within the briefing room and had been warned that his press badge could be taken away for interruptions. In addition, other White House correspondents have said he has been disruptive in his attempt to be heard. 

He said in March that Jean-Pierre was making a "mockery of the First Amendment" by entering the briefing room with the "Ted Lasso" TV show cast, according to the New York Post.

Out-of-turn remarks and questions traditionally occur after speakers talk in the White House.

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