Afghanistan's attorney general has ordered a New York Times journalist to leave the country after the newspaper ran a story saying powerful Afghan government officials were threatening to seize power to break the current presidential election impasse.
In a statement Wednesday, the attorney general's office said Matthew Rosenberg must depart the country within 24 hours. Attorney general spokesman Basir Azizi said the story goes against national interests and the security of the country.
"We want to have a clear message from Matthew Rosenberg, and we want to have his explanation that he should say the true history from where this report started, who are behind this," he said. "We are not letting anybody in Afghanistan to report such a document or such histories which should bring damages to the national security of Afghanistan."
The U.S. newspaper says Rosenberg was summoned for questioning Tuesday in Kabul, but refused to identify anonymous government sources he had quoted in the article.
Rosenberg said he and the newspaper cooperated fully and suggested the expulsion was politically motivated.
"Yesterday when I was not allowed to leave the country, they put out that to the media," he said. "Today, when I have to leave the country, they put out that to the media. You know, to us, this looks like a politically-motivated thing. We are trying to respect Afghan due process and, simply, we would appreciate the same from the authorities."
The New York Times says this is the fourth time this year the Afghan government has "threatened or initiated" legal action against the paper "because of complaints by senior Afghan officials" over its articles.
The U.S. State Department condemned the expulsion order, calling it "a significant step backward for the freedom of the press in Afghanistan."