Earlier this week, ABC’s Avani Dias claimed her work visa wasn’t extended due to her reporting “crossing a line.”

The United States stated Thursday that India has its own visa policy, determining which non-citizens can enter the country. This was in response to allegations by an Australian journalist that the Indian Government refused to extend her work visa, resulting in her abrupt departure from the country.

“Responding to a query from a Pakistani journalist, Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department, emphasized that India determines the entry of non-citizens, including short-term travelers and international journalists.”

“Patel clarified, ‘I won’t comment on India’s visa policy; that’s for the Government of India to address.'”

However, he emphasized the crucial role of the free press in the “fabric of democracy.”

“Broadly, we’ve consistently emphasized to countries worldwide the vital role a free press plays in democratic societies. That’s why we regularly hold press briefings and take questions. However, I’ll leave it to Indian officials to address this matter,” remarked Patel.

Claims and counter-claims

On Tuesday, Australian journalist Avani Dias asserted on X (formerly Twitter) that her work visa extension was denied, alleging her reporting had “crossed a line.”

Arriving in January 2022, Avani Dias took on the role of South Asia Bureau Chief for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in New Delhi. Her departure on April 19 coincided with the first phase of India’s seven-phase national election.

“In her X post, she alleged, ‘We were also informed that my election accreditation wouldn’t be approved due to an Indian ministry directive. We departed on the first day of voting in the national election, what Prime Minister Narendra Modi refers to as “the mother of democracy.”‘

A government official, speaking anonymously to Hindustan Times earlier this week, refuted the claims, stating that Dias departed due to “personal reasons.”

“The official stated, ‘She departed because she needed to meet the timeline for another job offer in Australia.'”

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