World Bulletin / News Desk
Al Jazeera's Pakistan bureau chief has responded to leaked documents showing U.S. intelligence had labeled him an al Qaeda member, calling the alleged link "absurd."
Quoting National Security Agency (NSA) documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, investigative journalism website The Intercept reported Friday that the agency had tracked Al Jazeera's Ahmad Zaidan's communications.
"This [al Qaeda allegation] is not an official charge though. This is just on the basis of a presentation, which has no legal standing. But still, I completely reject that. This is an absurd distortion of facts," Zaidan, Al Jazeera's longtime Islamabad bureau chief, told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
In his formal statement Zaidan defends his professional interactions with senior militant figures, which have included deceased al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
"I need to have access to the major players in the region. It’s a difficult and dangerous work but it’s a key part of the job of any responsible journalist," he said.
"Any hint of government surveillance that hinders this process is a violation of press freedom and harms the public’s right to know," he said.
Press freedom advocates the Committee to Protect Journalists said it was "troubled" by the revelation.
"Coloring the legitimate newsgathering activities of a respected journalist as evidence of international terrorism risks chilling the vital work of the media, especially in Pakistan where journalists routinely interview Taliban and other militant groups as part of their coverage," said the group's Asia director Bob Dietz in a statement released Friday.Last Mod: 09 Mayıs 2015, 18:50