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AP regrets Yemeni Pulitzer winner did not receive visa

NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press expressed disappointment that its Yemeni reporter was unable to attend the ceremony to collect his Pulitzer Prize because he was not granted a U.S. visa.

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AP Middle East editor Lee Keath, from left, joins AP's Pulitzer Prize winners for international reporting, Nariman El-Mofty, Maggie Michael and Maad al-Zikry, via cellphone, after receiving their certificates at an awards luncheon at Columbia University, May 28, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Maad al-Zikry, Maggie Michael and Nariman El-Mofty were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting on Tuesday for their coverage of the war in Yemen. Egyptian nationals Michael and El-Mofty were able to attend the ceremony because they have travel visas.

There is no U.S. embassy in Yemen, so al-Zikry had applied for a visa in Cairo, Egypt. He was interviewed for the visa earlier this month, but never received a response.

"We were terribly disappointed that Maad did not get a U.S. visa in time to come for the Pulitzer ceremony," AP executive editor Sally Buzbee said Wednesday. "Maad was a critical part of the team that won the international reporting Pulitzer. His reporting, and his video work in Yemen, were essential."

The winning work chronicled starvation, torture by both sides in the conflict, corruption and civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes against Islamic militants.

Al-Zikry had applied for a U.S. visa previously to attend an awards ceremony in Athens, Georgia, to receive the McGill Medal for journalistic courage. He was denied the visa then. He applied again after the team won the Pulitzer but did not get an answer.

During the Pulitzer awards ceremony on Tuesday at Columbia University, El-Mofty was able to connect with al-Zikry over the Internet so that he could hear the ceremony and see the crowd. She held up a phone showing his face as she and Michael, accompanied by editor Lee Keath, went on stage to receive the international reporting prize.

In a blog post Wednesday, al-Zikry said seeing Michael and El-Mofty at the ceremony and the audience's standing ovation "made me feel like I was there with them. It was a delightful surprise."

The Pulitzer board cited the team for its courageous and in-depth reporting on an under-covered conflict.