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Lawmakers are pressing the Biden administration to rescue U.S. Agency for Global Media employees and their families—some 550 people—who are stranded in Afghanistan.
The government employees are “men and women who have worked on behalf of the people of the United States and Afghanistan to strengthen freedom of the press and human rights,” Rep. Bill Keating (D., Mass.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) wrote in a letter Wednesday to President Joe Biden. “They have been and will continue to be a target for the Taliban due to their association with the United States government.”
The letter came just a day before a suicide bomber attacked Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, which has been the site of the United States’ chaotic withdrawal efforts. At least three U.S. service members were injured in the explosion.
The Biden administration has scrambled to evacuate Americans from Taliban-controlled Kabul by its Aug. 31 deadline. About 1,500 U.S. citizens are still stuck in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Wednesday. The Taliban has established checkpoints around the capital city, reportedly blocking credentialed Afghans and some Americans from reaching the airport.
Journalists and U.S. government employees are at particular risk in the Taliban-controlled country. The militant group’s fighters are going door to door to hunt down journalists who work for foreign-language media outlets, Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported last week.
The White House worked with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post to evacuate their 204 employees stationed in Afghanistan.
The employees who work for Radio Azadi and Voice of America, news outlets in Afghanistan overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, “are no different from journalists you have already doggedly worked to evacuate,” the lawmakers wrote to Biden.