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Simon Ateba, Online News Correspondent, Sues White House Press Secretary On Free Speech Grounds After Access is Cut

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Simon Ateba – a member of the White House press corps with online news outlet Today News Africa – has raised accusations against the current administration’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, the Secret Service and the office that President Biden sits for implementing press access policies that he believes are in direct violation of his First and Fifth Amendment rights.

In a lawsuit filed on Thursday, the journalist argues his press pass was unjustly rescinded as a result of a new White House policy.

We obtained a copy of the lawsuit for you here.

Ateba – standing as one of the previously 975 White House hard pass journalists – noted that these passes served as an unrestrictive permit, allowing entry and exit from the White House briefing room without hindrance. However, those without a hard pass must contact the White House for approval of a day pass on a specified date.

Accentuating the significance of the claim, the lawsuit reflected, “Defendants violated Mr. Ateba’s First Amendment rights by changing the criteria for hard pass credentials to intentionally prevent Mr. Ateba from obtaining hard pass access.” Ateba’s narrative goes further, stating that the customized conditions for credentialing orchestrated by the defendants were developed with the singular purpose of excluding him. His articulate description of these actions contextualizes them as “a content-based regulation and viewpoint discrimination”, which goes against the tenor of the First Amendment.

In an environment where Ateba has previously come out strong against Jean-Pierre, this development offers an intriguing continuity to his vocal displeasure at not having been given the opportunity to pose a question for nearly seven months.

His notable outburst came during a March 20 briefing, hosted in the presence of the famed cast of Apple TV show “Ted Lasso.” Ateba vociferously voiced his concerns over the alleged suppression of press freedom saying, “This is not China. This is not Russia. What you are doing, you’re making a mockery of the First Amendment.”

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