AP NEWS

Mike Pompeo blames media for rescinded award; foundation cites response to Khashoggi death as reason

April 5, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday blamed the media for a rescinded invitation to a dinner hosted by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, where he was to be honored with the foundation’s Freedom Award.

“It sounds like some in the media, who are underwriting this event, sponsors for the event, said, ‘If Pompeo’s there, we won’t be,’” Mr. Pompeo said in an interview with Fox Network’s “Fox and Friends” show.

Mr. Pompeo’s take is similar to a Washington Examiner opinion piece published Tuesday, which cited “knowledgeable sources” who said the “anti-Trump media” forced the foundation to disinvite the secretary of state.

The foundation denied any outside pressure in a statement, saying the decision to rescind Mr. Pompeo’s award in January was made alone and stemmed from the Trump administration’s response to journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul late last year.

″[We] ultimately decided we could not present the award as planned due to the dramatic change in circumstances when the administration did not press for genuine accountability from the Saudi government for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the statement read.

“In addition to advocating for the safe return of American hostages abroad, the protection of free speech and promotion of journalists’ safety is a key pillar of our foundation and this award would have been in conflict with that key principle,” they continued, later thanking “Pompeo for his extraordinary efforts to bring Americans home.”

The foundation advocates for and advances “the safe return of Americans detained unjustly abroad,” according to its website.