Taleban expel BBC correspondent

BBC News, March 14, 2001
Sanjay Suri

Afghanistan's ruling Taleban authorities have ordered the BBC to remove its correspondent, Kate Clark, from the country within 24 hours. The Taleban's Foreign Ministry said it was unhappy with the BBC's reporting, which it said was not based on "existing realities" and conflicted with Taleban mentality.

Kate Clark has been told to leave by Thursday afternoon "for the time being". The BBC will be allowed to keep its Kabul office open despite earlier reports that this was to be shut down.

The decision follows BBC reporting of the destruction of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, which the Taleban consider heathen idols.

On Wednesday, the Taleban announced that they had completed the destruction of two giant statues of Buddha at Bamiyan, despite international appeals to save Afghanistan's heritage.

In a statement, the BBC said it deeply regretted the decision and asked the Taleban authorities to reconsider.

Taleban anger

The Taleban were reportedly particularly angry over the BBC's broadcast of an interview with a US professor, who described the destruction of the statues as "barbaric".

Speaking to the Associated Press, Taleban official Tayyab Agha said the BBC had used "derogatory language" against the Taleban and its reporting on the Buddhas demolition was "misleading and hostile".

Kate Clark has reported for the BBC from Afghanistan since Autumn 1999, and is the only foreign correspondent working for an international news organisation to be based in Kabul.

The BBC has maintained a correspondent in the country since the early 1990s.

Last December, BBC translator Abdul Saboor Salehzai was arrested, but later released without charge, over what the Taleban described as "reservations about his personality".

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