11 Jul 2013

Journalist's photo put up at SAS camp, court told

10:17 pm on 11 July 2013

A senior New Zealand SAS officer has told a court he ordered a photo of freelance journalist Jon Stephenson be put up at a camp in Afghanistan to stop him entering.

The Lieutenant Colonel was giving evidence in the Wellington High Court in a defamation case brought by Mr Stephenson against the Defence Force and its chief.

The case relates to articles written by Mr Stephenson about the role of the Special Air Service in Afghanistan in detaining suspects.

Mr Stephenson's lawyer says a Defence Force news release implied that his client did not visit a base in Kabul and interview an Afghan commander for an article.

The Defence Force now says it is probable that Mr Stephenson did go to the base and spoke to someone who said he was the commander.

However, it says the crucial question for the jury to decide is whether the words in the news release defamed Mr Stephenson.

A senior SAS member told the court on Thursday that a photo of Mr Stephenson was put up at the camp after the journalist made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the base.