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Journalists in Afghanistan: Another Order to Stop Reporting

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Afghan intelligence has ordered foreign and national media to immediately cease and desist from reporting live from terrorist attack scenes across Afghanistan.

The order was delivered to top managers of media outlets working in Afghanistan, in one-on-one meetings with National Directorate of Security spokesman Said Ansari.

In a series of "friendly meeting(s)," Mr. Said told the media managers that coverage of terrorist attacks causes problems for security and only serves to benefit the enemy. Journalists were also told that this new order was for their protection -- to save them from possible injury at a scene not completely secure.

Although the order was conveyed verbally (with a flat refusal to outline anything in writing), it was done citing an old, rarely used clause from the internal security law of Afghanistan. At the end of the discussion with the security spokesman, journalists were warned not to report on the meeting or the order.

Last week's suicide bombing in central Kabul appears to be the reason behind this new edict -- when there was early speculation about those behind the attack, and some initial muddled reporting about the number of bombers and casualties.

Journalists have been told that they may not come near, or report from the scene of any terrorist acts until the initial investigation and government operations were finished. After that, Mr Ansari said, "we will give you the information in a press conference" about the attack.

Minister for Industry and Culture Minister, Mr Said Makhdoum Raheen who oversees media operations in Afghanistan, declined to take a position on the order, only saying he will hold a press conference in about three weeks on the issue.

Readers of this post understand that editors and managers are not prepared to follow any directive issued verbally and in secret. One senior journalist indicated that unless the edict is official, and in writing, the media will continue to report live from scenes of terrorist attacks.