Target: Afghanistan Attorney General Muhammad Ishaq Aloko
Goal: Stand up for freedom of the press and lift an unjust travel ban on a New York Times reporter
A New York Times reporter is in a predicament, after the Afghanistan Attorney General’s office issued a travel ban preventing him from leaving the country. The reporter, Matthew Rosenburg, had previously written an article claiming that some members of the Afghan government had discussed the formation of a temporary governing committee in the event of a continued crisis of leadership; in effect, a coup. He was subsequently summoned by a senior Afghan official and asked to reveal the identity of anonymous sources within the government, which he refused to do. This line of questioning, and the travel ban that followed, are not conducive to good journalism and the free dissemination of information. Furthermore, Mr. Rosenburg has committed no crime and should not be forced to remain in Afghanistan.
Mr. Rosenburg was summoned before General Sayed Noorullah Sadat, the man in charge of crimes against internal and external security. According to The New York Times itself, Gen. Sadat said of the situation “[r]ight now there’s no case, no legal charges, there’s nothing.” And yet, a travel ban is in place, one that will last while government officials investigate the article. If Mr. Rosenburg isn’t accused of a crime, he should be free to go where he pleases. This is not the first time that the Afghan government has taken unkindly to the New York Times; a spokesperson for President Karzai accused the paper of intentionally sowing disunity amongst the people of the country. But absent any proof of malicious intent, such claims are meaningless and individual reporters should not suffer for them.
There is no good reason to continue to prevent Mr. Rosenburg from travelling out of Afghanistan. The Attorney General of that country, Muhammad Ishaq Aloko, has the power to give the reporter back his freedom of movement and win a victory for freedom of the press. By signing this petition, you will urge the Attorney General to do the right thing.
Dear Attorney General Aloko,
Recently, a New York Times reporter was prevented from leaving Afghanistan pending an investigation of an article he wrote that claimed some members of the Afghan government discussed forming a temporary governing committee in case of a crisis of leadership. The reporter, Matthew Rosenburg, has committed no crime and does not deserve the treatment he has received. It is his job to investigate and report, and he should not be punished for it.
As the Attorney General of Afghanistan, you have the power to ensure that Mr. Rosenburg is treated fairly. He should not be banned from travel unless he has actually been accused of a crime. I urge you to give him his freedom.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Haxorjoe via Wikipedia