10 Jul 2013

War correspondent's sources challenged in court

9:37 pm on 10 July 2013

A correspondent who covered the war in Afghanistan and who is suing the Defence Force and its chief for defamation has been challenged under cross-examination as to whether he got his sources right.

The civil case brought by freelance journalist Jon Stephenson is being heard by a jury at the High Court in Wellington.

The case relates to articles written by Mr Stephenson about the role of the SAS in Afghanistan.

His lawyer says the Defence Force released a media statement that implied Mr Stephenson had lied about visiting a base in Kabul and interviewing an Afghan commander there.

Under cross-examination on Wednesday, Mr Stephenson was asked whether he was absolutely certain he had spoken to the actual commander.

Mr Stephenson says he is confident he did and has overwhelming evidence but cannot give a 100% assurance.

He says the Defence Force could test his interview notes for the commander's fingerprints to prove it.