NRK is the first media company in the world to publish information from the latest batch of classified documents from the war in Afghanistan, aquired by the whistleblower organisation Wikileaks.
Wikileaks has not yet released the 15.000 documents to the public, but NRK has decided to publish articles based on information from the documents today, having gained access to them over a week ago.
One of the specific cases NRK has looked into, is the terror attack on Kabul's Serena Hotel of January 14th, 2008. Norway's minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jonas Gahr Støre, was targeted, but escaped from injury. A Norwegian journalist was among the nine people killed in the incident.
Norway participates in ISAF's Afghanistan mission. Roughly 500 Norwegian soldiers are currently stationed in the country, mainly in the northern Faryab province.
By gaining access to the documents, NRK has been able to make a thorough assessment of intelligence reports concerning Norwegian forces and interests in Afghanistan.
The documents give a unique insight into the war-torn country. They originate from intelligence sources in the international ISAF forces, and were meant solely for internal purposes among them.
Most of the the documents are intelligence reports about threats from insurgents, Taliban's plans and meetings, as well as intelligence assessments. To a certain degree, they contain very detailed information about, and assessments of, ISAF's existing threats and enemies.
– Right to publish
Wikileaks' previous releases of classified documents from the war in Afghanistan have caused a great deal of controversy.
– We think publising the documents is the right decision given that the material is relevant to the national debate, and that the release uncovers crucial facts that may be important for future decisions, says Mr. Stein Bjøntegård, Chief News Editor at NRK.
– In the case of the Serena Hotel incident, I believe it is important to unveil the facts. It is therefore both an important and correct decision of us to publish, Mr. Bjøntegård adds.
He says he is confident that NRK has not put the lives of Norwegian soldiers, or their informants, at risk by publishing information from the leaked documents.
Even though NRK has access to all the 15.000 documents, the news editor does not plan to release all the information.
– We have concentrated on just a few documents involving Norwegian soldiers and operations. Out of these, we have chosen to publish some information, Mr. Bjontegaard elaborates.
Head of NRK's National Content Division, Mr. Per Arne Kalbakk, is convinced that the information from the documents is trustworthy. His assessment is based on former Wikileaks realeases from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
– They have proven to be genuine, and nothing of it has been repudiated. The leaks violate US criminal law, but the information itself and the quality of it has not been questioned, says Mr. Kalbakk.
In the week since NRK gained access to the leaked documents, both NRK journalists and independent, external experts have examined the documents.
– We have no reason to dispute the validity of the documents, Mr. Kalbakk adds.
Military intelligence operatives in Afghanistan uncovered a series of plans to attack Hotel Serena between 2005 and the attack on the hotel on January 14th, 2008. Click on the titles in the list below to display the full reports.
Key to the abbreviations used in the reports:
AQ = Al Qaeda
BBIED = Body-Borne Improvised Explosive Device
CTC = Counter Terrorist Center
EMPCOA = Enemy Most Probable Course of Action
GIRoA = Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
GOA = Government of Afghanistan
IED = Improvised Explosive Device
IVO = In Vicinity Of
MOI = Afghanistan Ministry of the Interior
N/I C = NATO/ISAF Command
NDS LNO = Officer of the Afghan National Directorate of Security
NFI = Not further identified
NGO = Non-Governmental Organization
RPG = Rocket Propelled Grenade
SVBIED = Suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device
TB = Taliban
UNAMA = United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan