Associated Press Protests Military Censors
The U.S military and executives of the Associated Press network are at loggerheads over the erasure of AP journalists' film last week in Afghanistan.
The U.S. military asserted that an American soldier was justified in erasing journalists' footage of the aftermath of a suicide bombing and shooting in Afghanistan last week, saying publication could have compromised a military investigation and led to false public conclusions.
The comments came in response to an Associated Press protest that a U.S. soldier had forced two freelance journalists working for the U.S.-based news agency to delete photos and video at the scene of violence March 4 in Barikaw, eastern Afghanistan. At least eight Afghans were killed and 34 wounded.
Col. Victor Petrenko claimed that "photographs or video" from "untrained people might capture visual details that are not as they originally were."
That amounts to an accusation of amateurism, doctoring pictures, or both, and prompted a sharp response from AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll in New York:
AP's journalists in Afghanistan are trained, accredited professionals working at an appropriate distance from the bombing scene. In democratic societies, legitimate journalists are allowed to work without having their equipment seized and their images deleted.
AP also objected to the military attempts to restrict coverage of a U.S. helicopter crash in Zabul. Petrenko maintained that the two incidents of censorship were both isolated and justified, and that the military remains "completely committed " to freedom of the press.
Odd way to show it. A much better solution would have been to have a reasoned discussion with the journalists on the scene and their editors.
Related Story: Media dragged into Afghan conflict. Alastair Leithead, BBC Kabul Correspondent