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VOA Haiti Reporter Granted Asylum in US Following Death Threats

Had been forced to spend the past year in hiding

Washington, D.C., September 30, 2010 - A Haitian journalist who has been receiving death threats for his reporting for the Voice of America has arrived in the United States, where he said he was "grateful that he and his family have been granted political asylum."

Shortly after arriving this week, VOA Creole Service reporter Sainlus Augustin thanked the U.S. Embassy in Haiti for "its assistance and strong support of press freedom."

Mr. Augustin began receiving death threats after an incident at a polling station in the Haitian town of Maissade on election day in April of 2009. He was interviewing voters who said they were beaten by a candidate's brother because they did not support his candidacy. The candidate's brother told Mr. Augustin that he and his family would be killed if he continued to report on the incident.

Three months later, unidentified gunmen fired several shots at Mr. Augustin's home while he and his wife were sleeping.

VOA Director Danforth W. Austin expressed relief that Mr. Augustin and his family are now safe. Austin said, "We are grateful to Mr. Augustin for his reporting from Haiti, and thankful to the organizations and individuals that helped make it possible for him to escape the kind of dangerous situation that journalists sometimes confront just to do their jobs."

Several media freedom groups and rights organizations, including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Haitian group SOS Journalists, had appealed to Haitian authorities to investigate the incident and ensure the safety of Mr. Augustin, who was forced to spend the last year in hiding.

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