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Off message: Afghans on freedom of the press

RFE/RL held a small press conference in Washington yesterday with Waheed Omer, Hamid Karzai's spokesman, and a representative from Freedom House. The official theme of the event was press freedom, and a discussion of Freedom House's new report that called Afghanistan's press "not free." But of course -- as anyone could have predicted -- the journalists who showed up were more interested in the visit of Karzai to Washington this week than (with all due respect to the fine people at Freedom House) a report on the Afghan media environment.

But when Omer had finished his defense of the state of press freedom in Afghanistan -- he argued that the country should not be judged by global standards, but in terms of how much progress it has made in the last ten years -- and it was the journalists' turn to ask questions, Omer clearly got flustered by the reporters' insistence on asking about Karzai's visit, such as what the Afghans hopes to bring up with the Americans. He protested (pdf):

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Off message: Afghans on freedom of the press

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