BBG Watch Commentary
Voice of America (VOA) Mandarin Service chief, Dr. Sasha Gong, spoke today at the open board meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). She is one of the “VOA Mandarin Five” journalists placed on administrative leave by VOA director Amanda Bennett. Ms. Bennett had made the decision to shorten the live VOA Mandarin Service interview with Chinese whistleblower Guo Wengui broadcast by VOA on April 19 and was sitting next to Dr. Gong as she spoke to the BBG Board on June 14, 2017. (Photo) Also speaking today at the BBG Board meeting was Voice of America Mandarin Service journalist, senior editor Huchen Zhang.
“The Chinese are fighters,” one of many former VOA journalists who support and defend “VOA Mandarin Five” told BBG Watch “We have great admiration for them,” the journalist wrote.
Many current and former Voice of America employees, including former VOA director Robert R. Reilly who wrote a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, are concerned how VOA journalists are treated by the BBG bureaucracy headed by BBG CEO John F. Lansing. Mr. Lansing has been strongly supportive of Amanda Bennett and her decisions in the Guo Wengui interview controversy.
STATEMENT BY VOA MANDARIN SERVICE CHIEF DR. SASHA GONG TO BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS ON GUO WENGUI INTERVIEW
JUNE 14, 2017
My name is Sasha Gong. I am one of the “Mandarin Five” who is placed on administrative leave. I first want to thank my colleagues who have been supporting us all along. As we often say, you don’t know how many friends you have until you are in need. Thank you. I am proud of you. I love you.
I started listening to VOA when I was fifteen. In 1977, when I was in a Chinese jail, my interrogators asked if I listened to “enemy radio.” It was a criminal offense. I answered: Voice of America. I love my work here. I live for VOA’s mission to promote freedom. I am willing to die for the mission.
I am very glad that Senator Rubio asked Secretary Tillerson to launch an OIG investigation into the VOA Guo Wengui interview incident. I am speaking for all my colleagues – five of us currently in administrative leave – that we will do our best to help the investigation and to find out the truth. I believe that Senator Rubio, whose family came from communist Cuba, shares our belief in democracy, freedom, and truth.