- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) — The U.S. government has ordered an Iraqi journalist to leave the country for "engaging in activities outside the scope of his job function," the State Department said Saturday.

Mohammed Allawi, a U.N. correspondent for the government-owned Iraqi News Agency, and his family have 15 days to leave the United States.

"The United States, after consultation with the United Nations, has requested the departure of a correspondent for the Iraq News Agency who is accredited to the U.N.," said a State Department spokesperson.

"The correspondent was engaged in activities outside the scope of his job function. These activities were considered harmful to U.S. national security," the official said.

As the news of the U.S. action reached Baghdad, the Iraqi government also ordered four staff members of a U.S. television channel, Fox News, to leave the country. They are based in Baghdad. Fox News executives said they have appealed the expulsion and are scheduled to meet Saturday with Iraqi officials.

Allawi, who has covered the United Nations for the government-owned agency for two years, said he received an expulsion letter at his Manhattan home on Thursday. The letter, signed by Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Patrick Kennedy, said Allawi, his wife and five children had 15 days to leave the United States.

"I have never been involved in any activity that could be interpreted as harming the U.S. interests. They have ordered my expulsion without telling me what I have done," said Allawi.

"During these two years, I have been doing what all journalists do, sending stories," he added.

Allawi said the Iraqi government might expel more American journalists from Baghdad in retaliation.

Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri told reporters in New York said he could only hope that the U.S. government withdrew its order. "Allawi is a very polite and decent man. I don't see how he could be a threat to the United States."

Aldouri also complained that the United States has tried to coerce Iraqi diplomats at the United Nations into defecting.

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