CPJ: investigate death of Sultan Munadi
Padraig Reidy: Journalist group calls for probe into Afghan rescue mission
05 Nov 09

New York based Committee to Protect Journalists has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, requesting an inquiry into the death of Afghan journalist Sultan Munadi during a rescue operation carried out by British forces in which New York Times journalist Stephen Farrell was freed from Taliban captors:

As an organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of press freedom around the world, we are writing today to request that you authorize a comprehensive investigation into the rescue operation on September 9. Many questions remain, among them whether Munadi’s rescue was a central objective, what circumstances existed when he was killed, and why his remains were left behind after British forces withdrew. We urge you to authorize the Ministry of Defence to carry out an internal inquiry and to make its findings public. We believe that such an inquiry can be carried out without compromising the operational security of British and NATO forces operating in Afghanistan.

CPJ’s two-month-long effort to document the events that led to the rescue and Munadi’s death, however, has revealed many unanswered questions. We feel compelled to note that British authorities have declined our requests for information. The unanswered questions include:

* Was the recovery of both Farrell and Munadi an explicit objective of the military operation?

* What were the circumstances of Munadi’s death? Is there any evidence Munadi was shot accidentally by British forces who did not recognize him as a hostage?

* After Farrell pointed out Munadi to British forces, did anyone check for vital signs?

* Why were Munadi’s remains left at the scene of the firefight?

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By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.