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BBC statement on Afghan blogger threats

The Committee to Protect Bloggers recently received the following statement from the BBC in response to complaints by Afghan Blogger Sohrab Kabuli that somebody has been using a BBC computer to threaten him. The statement was sent by Mike Gardner, Head of Media Relations at BBC World Service:

The BBC has met with Sohrab Kabuli – the pseudonym for the Afghan blogger – who alleges that offensive e-mails were sent from a BBC staff member in the Kabul office.

At the meeting:

* The BBC reassured Mr Kabuli that he is not under threat from any part of the BBC.

* The BBC confirmed to Mr Kabuli that the BBC found no evidence of threatening behaviour toward Mr Kabuli by any BBC staff member.

* We also stated that the BBC is clear such a communication or behaviour would contravene BBC guidelines and be unacceptable if they came from any BBC staff member.

* We assured him that we will not reveal his true identity.

The BBC also said that it treated this matter extremely seriously and conducted an investigation over a number of weeks both in London and in Kabul to ascertain whether the e-mails came from the BBC.

The BBC has concluded its investigation but has been unable to reach a definitive answer for reasons outlined below.

However we believe that evidence has been brought forward now to question the contents of the complaint and the manner in which Mr Kabuli's website was allegedly accessed from a BBC computer.

The BBC was able to establish the following facts during the investigation:

* The IP address mentioned by Sohrab Kabuli in his blog belongs to a computer located in the BBC’s Kabul office.

* The computer is not assigned to a particular individual and can be used by anybody in the office.

* The BBC is unable to confirm whether the alleged threatening message came from the machine, had a message altered or was altered on the blog to appear to have come from the PC.

* Mr Kabuli has furnished us with evidence that the IP address has been in contact with his computer.

* This contact is undisputed as the BBC had conducted a written interview with Mr Kabuli early in July, prior to the allegation. The BBC was unable to use the article. At this point Mr Kabuli threatened to lodge a complaint against the producer.

* It was at this time that allegations claiming death threats surfaced for the first time.

* The investigation has brought forward evidence that Mr Kabuli has been a frequent visitor to the BBC’s Kabul offices. He is well-known to members of staff, some of whom have a personal relationship with him. Therefore his visits to the building, including the room where the computer in question is situated, have usually been unsupervised.

* The BBC is aware that Mr Kabuli is an expert in computing and his profession has involved managing computer networks.

Despite our best efforts we have found no hard or conclusive evidence that the threat came from a member of the BBC staff. If Mr Kabuli has further evidence it will be gratefully received by the BBC.

Mr Kabuli has called for the dismissal of a particular BBC staff member. The BBC is puzzled how the dismissal of a staff member would diminish, should it exist, any perceived threat to his life. The BBC has information that the staff member worked with Mr Kabuli at a previous place of employment. This, added to the fact that Mr Kabuli is now making wild and unsubstantiated allegations against the BBC staff member, leads the BBC to be concerned at his motivations.

The BBC is now drawing a line on correspondence on this matter, unless further conclusive evidence is forthcoming.

The BBC pledges to investigate future serious complaints immediately, if the complaint is sent promptly.

In the meantime we are taking steps to tighten security on buildings, control access to work areas and ensure that non-BBC staff do not have unsupervised access to its computers.

Thanks to CPB president Curt Hopkins for his persistence on this story.

  • http://www.thedustyattic.blogspot.com Dusty

    My observations:

    Put me down as not impressed with the detail provided of their investigation. I am, however, impressed with the casual nature in which they provide additional indirect detail regarding the identity of the person using the pseudonym Sohrab Kabuli. I have little doubt there are at least 5 additional *zip-lipped* staff at the BBC Kabul Office who now know SK’s real identity so, how long will it be before native freelancers/contract employees know it? (Three people can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. — Benjamin Franklin … per Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, Third Edition, or something like that.)

    Also, the heck with the first three bullets, I’d like to see a bullet that says:

    - A review of BBC server records shows that no connection to Blogsky was made at the dates and times that the threatening comments were posted to the blog in question.

    Otherwise the investigation should continue.

  • penny

    The investigation has brought forward evidence that Mr Kabuli has been a frequent visitor to the BBC’s Kabul offices. He is well-known to members of staff, some of whom have a personal relationship with him. Therefore his visits to the building, including the room where the computer in question is situated, have usually been unsupervised.

    The BBC is aware that Mr Kabuli is an expert in computing and his profession has involved managing computer networks.

    Despite our best efforts we have found no hard or conclusive evidence that the threat came from a member of the BBC staff. If Mr Kabuli has further evidence it will be gratefully received by the BBC.

    No, but we will smear Mr. Kabuli.

    So, the BBC is pointing the finger at the victim, Mr. Kabuli. Of course, it couldn’t be anyone on THEIR staff!!!!! The same staff that is there every day with access to the computer in question.

    How disgusting.

    The BBC is a vicious organization. Their leftist and anti-American dribble has gone unchallenged for far too long. The same biases that contaminate their articles renders them incapable of an investigation of this with integrity.

  • Joe

    Heh. Color me not-so-surprised that the guy might be faking.

  • james dunn

    You lying assholes. The most disturbing thing about your behavior, as a so-called “neutral” network, is the stubborn in-your-face ignorance about the damage your network has caused around the world. I believe some person working for the BBC wrote the Email (This could be fairly easy to check by the way) because it accurately reflects what I think is typical BBC sentiment. Would anyone be surprised if this bloggers identity is revealed within the next few weeks or if he or she ends up murdered? I think not. This network will never face up to it, but it is the biggest terrorist enabler in the world with al jazeera (only because of audience reach) a distant runner up.

  • Your Tax Dollars At Work at the BBC

    He says he didn’t do it, sooooooo, we’re just going to let it sliiiide.

  • RebeccaH

    Because of bias and outright collusion on the part of the BBC in the past, I cannot put much trust in their excuses now. We will see, won’t we, if Mr. Kabuli’s real name becomes public, or if, God forbid, he is attacked. I wonder what will be the BBC’s response then?

  • JW

    Sounds like they are accusing him of sending threatening emails to himself. Cute touch, there.

  • http://www.thedustyattic.blogspot.com Dusty

    My observations:

    Put me down as not impressed with the detail provided of their investigation. I am, however, impressed with the casual nature in which they provide additional indirect detail regarding the identity of the person using the pseudonym Sohrab Kabuli. I have little doubt there are at least 5 additional *zip-lipped* staff at the BBC Kabul Office who now know SK’s real identity so, how long will it be before native freelancers/contract employees know it? (Three people can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. — Benjamin Franklin … per Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, Third Edition, or something like that.)

    Also, the heck with the first three bullets, I’d like to see a bullet that says:

    - A review of BBC server records shows that no connection to Blogsky was made at the dates and times that the threatening comments were posted to the blog in question.

    Otherwise, the investigation should continue.

  • mikem

    Tracking the emails to the BBC’s computer is NOT hard evidence??

    Well, that was easy.

  • M Zukerman

    Once again, the media is not content to merely report the news.

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