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Kabul will clarify media strictures

By Reuters

Afghanistan promised to clarify restrictions on news coverage of Taliban strikes, and hinted it may row back from the most draconian measures, which amount to a total ban on filming during attacks.

Washington said it would make clear to Kabul its support for a free media, one day after the Afghan National Directorate of Security spy agency summoned journalists to its headquarters and threatened to arrest anyone filming while strikes are under way.

"It is pretty obvious that we support a free press. We don't like restrictions on the press. My whole career has been devoted to

supporting that," US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said.

Holbrooke said both he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would make their positions known to the Afghan Government. He did not elaborate.

President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omer, said on Tuesday the new guidelines had not yet been drawn up, and promised they would not amount to censorship. "I would not call it restrictions. There is nothing even discussed or conveyed to the media called restrictions on the media," he said.

The goal would be to prevent insurgents from using live media reports to get tactical information, and to keep journalists themselves out of danger at the scene of violence, he said, without elaborating on how that might be achieved.

"Live broadcast of the scene of the attacks has in the past been useful to the enemy to give instructions to their people who are on the scene. Through a mechanism, we want to ensure that does not happen again," Omer said.


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