Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Islamabad was labeled a member of Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood by the National Security Agency, according to a report in the Intercept.
The report states that the information about Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan is based on top-secret files leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
A journalist enters the Al Jazeera bureau in Berlin after a demonstration for the news organization's reporters imprisoned in Cairo, as well other journalists suffering from censorship or harassment, on February 27, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images)
The report continues:
A Syrian national, Zaidan has focused his reporting throughout his career on the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and has conducted several high-profile interviews with senior Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden.
A slide dated June 2012 from a National Security Agency PowerPoint presentation bears his photo, name, and a terror watch list identification number, and labels him a “member of Al-Qa’ida” as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. It also notes that he “works for Al Jazeera.”
The presentation was among the documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Zaidan has "absolutely" denied that he is a member of Al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Jazeera is standing behind its bureau chief.
“For us to be able to inform the world, we have to be able to freely contact relevant figures in the public discourse, speak with people on the ground, and gather critical information," Zaidan remarked. "Any hint of government surveillance that hinders this process is a violation of press freedom and harms the public’s right to know."
"To assert that myself, or any journalist, has any affiliation with any group on account of their contact book, phone call logs, or sources is an absurd distortion of the truth and a complete violation of the profession of journalism,” he added.
Read the entire report at The Intercept.