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New York Times reporter ordered to leave Afghanistan

Afghanistan's attorney general has ordered New York Times correspondent Matthew Rosenberg to depart the country within 24 hours after the American reporter refused to identify senior government sources he used for an article about a planned government takeover.

By JC Finley
New York Times reporter ordered to leave Afghanistan
New York Times correspondent Matthew Rosenberg was ordered to leave Afghanistan within 24 hours by the attorney general. (Twitter/Matthew Rosenberg)

NEW YORK, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- On Wednesday, the Afghan attorney general's office notified New York Times correspondent Matthew Rosenberg that he must depart Afghanistan within 24 hours.

The expulsion comes after Rosenberg refused to identify anonymous sources he used in an article about a planned government takeover should the delayed government formation persist. Rosenberg wrote in Tuesday's article, "A coterie of powerful Afghan government ministers and officials with strong ties to the security forces are threatening to seize power if an election impasse that has paralyzed the country is not resolved soon."

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Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Aloko's office originally issued an order on Tuesday prohibiting Rosenberg from leaving the country while an investigation was being conducted, but on Wednesday issued a new order expelling Rosenberg and banning him from re-entering Afghanistan.

The Afghan government accused Rosenberg of writing an opinion piece and "falsely attributing it to high-level government officials."

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In a statement released by Aloko's office on Wednesday, the government asserted that Rosenberg's article was "considered divisive and contrary to the national interest, security and stability of Afghanistan."

Despite the attorney general's expulsion order, Rosenberg tweeted Wednesday that it is "Unclear if AG has right to issue order," while noting that "We remain eager to cooperate within bounds of Afghan due process."

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President Hamid Karzai's office weighed in on Wednesday, with spokesman Aimal Faizi asserting that the expulsion order was decided "at the very highest level" and involved Karzai, both vice presidents and key ministers.

Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, stood by Rosenberg and his article. "Matt is a terrific reporter who reported an accurate story... He was perfectly willing to talk to the Afghan government but obviously wasn't going to reveal his sources."

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