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Biden office apologizes to reporter forced to delete photos

Vice President Joe Biden (C), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L), Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) and others arrive in the Hou
Vice President Joe Biden (C), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L), Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) and others arrive in the Hou

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden's press office has apologized to a student reporter who was asked by a volunteer staffer to delete photos taken at a vice presidential event near Washington.

The apology was in response to a formal complaint lodged by Lucy Dalglish, dean of the University of Maryland's journalism school, where the reporter is a student.

The student, a reporter at Capital News Service, a news organization run by the university, took photos of Biden at a domestic violence event in Rockville, Maryland, while outside of the designated press area.

A volunteer staffer not accustomed to dealing with media asked the reporter, Jeremy Barr, to delete the photos. According to a Capital News Service account, the staffer asked to watch as the reporter erased the photos from his smartphone.

Dalglish wrote in a letter to the vice president's press office that the incident was "pure intimidation."

Biden press secretary Kendra Barkoff confirmed that the office had apologized.

"This was an unfortunate mistake by a staffer who does not regularly interact with the press. Once we learned about it I immediately apologized to the dean of the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, the reporter involved and to the newspaper. It will never happen again," she said.

The Capitol News Service reported that Adrianne Flynn, a professor and editor in its Washington bureau, called the incident a "clear violation of the First Amendment."

"This is uncalled for and completely wrong," Flynn said.

(This story has been corrected to clarify that person involved was volunteer staffer, not Biden staffer)

(Editing by Doina Chiacu and Eric Beech)

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