National Press Club

NPC asks Defense Secretary about report of soldiers beating Afghan reporter

March 10, 2014 | By John M. Donnelly | JDonnelly@cq.com

The National Press Club president wrote the U.S. secretary of Defense today expressing concern about reports that U.S. special forces personnel in Afghanistan had beaten an Afghan radio journalist.

American special forces recently assaulted Radio Paighame Milli in Afghanistan, detaining the station owner and two employees, while cutting off its broadcasts, according to a March 1 report in the New York Times. Station owner Qazi Nasir Mudassir claimed members of the U.S. military beat him while he was in detention and threatened to kill him unless he identified people suspected of being insurgent—even though Mudassir’s station is supportive of the Afghan government and broadcasts advertisements paid for by the U.S. military, the story said.

"If true, the events in Afghanistan indicate that the U.S. military is undermining a free press," wrote Myron Belkind, president of the National Press Club. "That would run counter to American values, our Constitution and the policies of the Obama administration."

The National Press Club, located in Washington, D.C., is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the Club stands up for the First Amendment and transparency.

The letter follows:

National Press Club
529 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

March 10, 2014

Secretary Chuck Hagel
U.S. Department of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Hagel:

American special forces recently assaulted Radio Paighame Milli in Afghanistan, detaining the station owner and two employees, while cutting off its broadcasts, according to a March 1 report in the New York Times.

Station owner Qazi Nasir Mudassir claimed members of the U.S. military beat him while he was in detention and threatened to kill him unless he identified people suspected of being insurgents--even though Mudassir's station is supportive of the Afghan government and broadcasts advertisements paid for by the U.S. military, according to the Times.

The incident has drawn protests from Afghan journalist groups.

The National Press Club is extremely concerned about this report. Through its Freedom of the Press Committee, the National Press Club monitors imprisonment, killings and other attempts to restrict news gathering around the world. If true, the events in Afghanistan indicate that the U.S. military is undermining a free press. That would run counter to American values, our Constitution and the policies of the Obama administration.

At your earliest convenience, please provide the National Press Club with the facts behind the Radio Paighame Milli incident and state clearly whether the U.S. military supports a free press in Afghanistan.

Sincerely,

Myron Belkind
President, National Press Club

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