Afghanistan prevents New York Times reporter from leaving country over story

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Afghanistan’s attorney general has banned a New York Times reporter from leaving the country after he wrote a story about unnamed officials seeking to take power if the country’s presidential election deadlock persists.

A spokesman for Afghan Attorney General Muhammad Ishaq Aloko told The Washington Post Tuesday that Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg, 40, was asked to “clarify” his story and reveal his sources.

Basir Azizi said the story -- which ran in the New York Times on Monday -- could “create fear and confusion among the people” and that Rosenberg will not be allowed to leave the country until it has been investigated by officials.

Afghanistan’s presidential election was supposed to result in a new president this month, but instead has been marred by months of charges, including fraud and threats of violence.

Rosenberg’s story states that Afghan government officials and others with close ties to the country’s security forces are looking to form an interim government to pressure two rival presidential candidates -- Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah – into finding a compromise for the crisis.

Rosenberg said he was summoned to the attorney general's office on Tuesday and was questioned by three men who wanted to know which officials and political leaders acted as sources for the story, but he refused to reveal their identities.

Joe Kahn, the international editor for the New York Times, said the newspaper is “eager to work with the Afghan authorities to resolve any concerns about the article, which we feel is fair and accurate.”

Rosenberg said the newspaper is working with its lawyers on how to proceed with the situation, according to the Washington Post.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists blasted the ban, calling it “alarming.”

“Denying journalists freedom of movement is nothing more than a form of intimidation at a time when Afghanistan’s democracy is most in need of independent political reporting,” Deputy Director Robert Mahoney said in a statement.

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