12 May 2011

Journalist considers legal action over SAS article

11:34 pm on 12 May 2011

The journalist behind an article claiming New Zealand elite troops put prisoners at risk of torture is considering taking legal action against the head of the Defence Force and the Prime Minister.

Jon Stephenson says comments made by Lieutenant General Rhys Jones and John Key are incorrect and defamatory.

In a story published in Metro magazine in April, Mr Stephenson said the SAS played a key role in arresting and transferring prisoners to Afghan authorities in 2010.

Under international conventions, New Zealand cannot transfer prisoners to countries where they might be subject to torture.

General Jones rejected the article, saying no detainees were taken by the SAS and its processes are legally and morally sound.

Mr Key labelled the claims "wrong and unfounded" and on Thursday said the journalist was welcome to sue him.

Mr Stephenson says he wrote to General Jones on Wednesday, asking him to withdraw his comments and apologise. He says if General Jones does this, he will not take the matter further.