The acting director of Voice of America has stepped down as head of the agency, saying he is returning to his previous position as the U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack brings in a new leader.
Elez Biberaj, who was named acting director of Voice of America in June, sent an email to staff late Tuesday saying that his time in the position is coming to an end and he wishes the new director success in fulfilling VOA’s mission.
USAGM has not announced who will succeed Biberaj at the network. In an email to VOA before the announcement Tuesday a spokesperson said only that Biberaj is “acting VOA director.” Outside media reports have said former VOA Director Robert Reilly, a writer and diplomat who was director of VOA from 2001-2002, has been selected. Reilly has written publicly in support of Pack. USAGM declined to respond to emails requesting comment on who will replace Biberaj.
Last month a federal judge ruled that some of Pack’s moves as CEO violated the First Amendment rights of the agency’s journalists. The judge ordered Pack to stop interfering in VOA’s news coverage and conducting editorial investigations. However Pack retains the authority to select a new VOA director.
In his email to staff, Biberaj suggested the last six months have been the most challenging period in VOA’s recent history. He wrote that “some agency officials failed to respect rules, protocols and processes that I considered inviolable.” He also said, “attempts to trample VOA’s journalistic independence threatened to undermine our hard-won credibility,” without elaborating.
Biberaj said he will return to his previous position as director of VOA’s Eurasia Division.
President Donald Trump nominated Michael Pack more than two years ago to become CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe, and other U.S.-funded international broadcasters.
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