ISLAMABAD, Nov 16: Top executives and editors of 21 leading international media organisations have collectively voiced concern over publication of an article in a Pakistani national newspaper, accusing Mathew Rosenberg, a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, of working for foreign intelligence services and even the US military contractor Blackwater.
In a joint letter addressed to Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, they said the development had caused alarm among international media organisations working in the country and urged the government to take all possible steps to ensure the safety of all media personnel in future.
Describing Rosenberg as a respected journalist of high standing, they observed that the unsubstantiated allegation levelled in the article published in The Nation that he worked for CIA, Israeli intelligence and Blackwater had critically compromised his (Rosenberg’s) security and raised questions about whether he could return to Pakistan to work safely in future.
The article also has a broader implication, the letter said, pointing out that these were difficult times for all journalists in Pakistan. “Our employees already face an array of threats, including violence and kidnapping, as they strive to provide timely and accurate coverage. Now those risks have been needlessly increased.”
The top executives of international media said they strongly supported press freedom across the world, but the irresponsible article endangered the life of one journalist and could imperil others.
“It is particularly upsetting that this threat has come from among our own colleagues,” they regretted.
They recognised that courageous Pakistani journalists routinely faced greater danger than their international counterparts. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, five Pakistani journalists have been killed in the past 12 months. “And we are heartened that several Pakistani media organisations have denounced The Nation’s story,” they remarked.
But, they said, they were also concerned that an incident of this kind — tarring a foreign reporter as a spy — could occur again. They asked the government to take note of the story and make necessary arrangements for security of all media personnel.
Copies of the joint letter have also been sent to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and heads of all the newspaper organisations.
The joint letter bears signatures of Chuck Lustig, Foreign Editor, ABC News; Phillipe Massonnet, Global News Director, AFP; Kathleen Carroll, Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Associated Press (AP); Alan Rusbridger, Editor in Chief, The Guardian; Jon Williams, World News Editor, BBC; Roger Alton, Editor, The Independent; Nancy Lane, Senior Vice President, CNN; Al Anstay, Head of News, Al Jazeera; John Micklethwait, Editor in Chief, The Economist; Daniel Bogler, Managing Editor, Financial Times; Bruce Wallace, Foreign Editor, Los Angeles Times; Jean Gerard, Deputy Director, France Infor; John L Walcott, McClachy Newspapers; Ellen Weiss, Senior Vice President for News, National Public Radio (NPR); David Schlesinger, Editor in Chief, Reuters; Bill Keller, Executive Editor, The New York Times; Richard Stengel, Managing Editor, Time; Nisid Hajari, Foreign Editor, Newsweek; James Harding, Editor, The Times; Calude Cirille, Editor in Chief, Radio France International; and Robert Thomson, Managing Editor, The Wall Street Journal.