Freedom of the press and the establishment of a vibrant media environment are important achievements for Afghanistan and its citizens in the country’s first dozen years of democracy. These gains are threatened by the decision yesterday by the government of Afghanistan to expel New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg. We deplore this decision, which is unjustified and based on unfounded allegations.
This first expulsion of a journalist in post-Taliban Afghanistan is a regrettable step backward for the freedom of the press in this country. There is no mistaking the signal this sends to all journalists working in Afghanistan, whether they are Afghan, American, or any other nationality. I expressed today to President Karzai our strong concern about this unwarranted action. I asked him to affirm his government’s recognition of the importance of protecting the freedom of the press, as an important part of the legacy of his presidency.