School of Media and Communication

Phil Taylor's papers


The danger to journalists of covering the 'new' war by CPJ

The danger to journalists of covering the 'new' war by CPJ

" December 21, 2001 - The New York Times reported that on December 20, Afghan tribal fighters detained three photojournalists working for U.S. news organizations. The journalists were detained for more than one hour, apparently at the behest of U.S. Special Operations forces in the Tora Bora area. The three photographers were David Guttenfelder of The Associated Press, Tyler Hicks, and Joao Silva, both of The New York Times. According to the Times report, U.S. troops in the area did not want their pictures taken, even though the Pentagon has openly discussed their presence. Memory cards containing images of the U.S. forces were confiscated from two digital cameras.

" December 10, 2001 - On December 8, Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for the London daily Independent, was severely beaten by Afghan refugees in the village of Kila Abdullah in western Pakistan.

Fisk, his Independent colleague Justin Huggler, driver Amanullah, and translator Fayyaz Ahmed were driving past Kila Abdullah, near the Afghan border, when their car broke down. A large crowd gathered around the car and started throwing stones and hitting Huggler and Fisk. As the two reporters tried to board a bus, Fisk was dragged off, beaten, and kicked by about 60 men. The assailants were mostly Afghan refugees, according to Fisk

" December 6, 2001 - Several news organizations have protested the Pentagon's decision to refuse journalists access to soldiers injured by a misdirected American B-52 bomb north of Kandahar. Three U.S. special forces soldiers and five anti-Taliban Afghan fighters were killed by the bomb.

On December 5, journalists at a Marine base in southern Afghanistan were confined to a warehouse while injured soldiers were transferred to the base for treatment. That night, the journalists were pulled out of Afghanistan altogether.

The reporters, who entered the Marine base on November 25, were the first journalists allowed by the Pentagon to accompany U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They were from The Associated Press, The Baltimore Sun, CBS, CNN, Newsweek, The New York Times, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, Gannett, The Washington Post, and AP Television News. Under the terms of the arrangements made by the Pentagon, the journalists were required to pool their reports with other news media.

Jonathan Wolman, executive editor of The Associated Press, told the AP that defense department policy "allows for coverage of casualties, but it was subverted in this case." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged today that U.S. officials had "not handled the matter perfectly" and stated that "the media should have access to both the good and the bad in this effort."

" December 3, 2001 - CPJ welcomes the December 1 release of Ken Hechtman, a Canadian free-lance journalist whom Taliban authorities detained for four days in the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak. The Taliban had earlier denied responsibility for holding Hechtman, and suggested he had been kidnapped. Taliban official Mullah Aminullah said Saturday that officials had been investigating Hechtman on espionage charges, but were persuaded to release him after meeting with Canadian diplomats and Pakistani officials.

Prior to his detention, Hechtman had been filing regularly from the region for the weekly Montreal Mirror.

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