State Department Ends Ban on Colombian Journalist Hollman Morris

July 27, 2010 12:00 am

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U.S. should end practice of banning people on ideological grounds, says ACLU.


BOSTON — A prominent Colombian journalist who was once barred from the United States today received a visa to come to this country to study. The American Civil Liberties Union, American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and PEN American Center sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this month expressing alarm over reports that Hollman Morris had been denied a visa to travel to the U.S.

Morris was one of 12 international journalists selected to participate in the Nieman fellowship at Harvard University during the 2010-11 academic year. However, when he applied for a visa in order to attend the program, he was told by the U.S. embassy in Bogota that he had been found permanently ineligible for a visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The reversal of that decision means Morris will likely be able to come to the U.S. to participate in the program.

The following statement may be attributed to John Reinstein, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts:

“We welcome the State Department’s decision to end the exclusion of Hollman Morris from the United States. With the ban lifted, leading human rights groups and journalists will be able to engage with Mr. Morris on important human rights issues facing the world. Freedom of speech also means the freedom of Americans to hear what speakers have to say, and we are pleased that Hollman Morris is now able to accept the invitation of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

“We also hope the decision to lift the ban on Mr. Morris is a signal that the Obama administration is committed to facilitating, rather than obstructing, the exchange of ideas across international borders. The administration should now make clear that it will end the practice of ideological exclusion once and for all.”

The lifting of the ban on Hollman Morris’ visit to the United States comes just two days before an ACLU-sponsored event on similar “ideological exclusion.” On Thursday, July 29, on Martha’s Vineyard, the ACLU of Massachusetts will hold its latest “Evening Without” reading, featuring the work of scholars, writers, and poets — including Emma Goldman, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Nelson Mandela — who have been ideologically excluded from the United States. Prominent authors, attorneys, actors and activists will read the works, including Pulitzer Prize winners Anthony Lewis and Geraldine Brooks, and radio personalities Paula Lyons and Tony Kahn.

For more information about “An Evening Without,” see:

A statement from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard is available here:

The ACLU/AAUP/PEN letter to Secretary Clinton is available online at:

For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, go to:

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