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BBG Statement on the Release of Rahman Bunairee

Broadcasting Board of Governors welcomes reporter's release

Washington, D.C., August 19, 2009 - The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) welcomes the release today by United States immigration authorities of Rahman Bunairee, a Pakistani journalist who works for the Voice of America (VOA) and had been in custody since arriving to the U.S. on August 9.

Mr. Bunairee is a man of extraordinary courage and dedication whose reporting in Pakistan for VOA provoked the Taliban to blow up his house and threaten his life. He exemplifies the journalistic professionalism for which VOA and all of U.S. Government-supported international broadcasting stands.

Mr. Bunairee came to Washington to help VOA develop its broadcasts to the troubled Afghanistan-Pakistan border region through its Deewa Radio service. He was detained by immigration authorities upon arrival after they determined he had cause for leaving Pakistan beyond the purpose stated under his visa.

Consistent with U.S. law, immigration officials interviewed Mr. Bunairee further and ruled he could remain in the U.S. pending a hearing (date to be set) to determine his ultimate legal status.

While welcoming the news of Mr. Bunairee's release, the BBG also expects that Mr. Bunairee will in due course be able to undertake the assignment at VOA for which he has come to this country. His work and that of his colleagues at Deewa Radio is critical to advancing U.S. strategic interests in the struggle against extremism.

The BBG wishes to thank Paul Virtue, an attorney with Hogan and Hartson in Washington, who has worked pro bono to provide Mr. Bunairee with expert legal counsel.