Pakistani readers of the International New York Times were met with a half-empty front page on Sunday, after a cover story on Osama Bin Laden was removed.
The 4,800 word feature, titled ‘What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden’, was an excerpt from an upcoming book by Times journalist Carlotta Gall. The article explored Pakistan’s relationship with Al Qaeda and Bin Laden.
The news of the censorship quickly spread across social media, with many – including Gall herself – posting photos of the blank front page.
Breakfast in Islamabad, courtesy of photog Max Becherer @mlbecherer and @etribune pic.twitter广西桑拿,/G2a3Drjj8X
— Carlotta Gall (@carlottagall) March 22, 2014
This is what the front page of the International New York Times should have looked like today: #Pakistan #OBL #PT pic.twitter广西桑拿,/WuXiNXRtwt
— Qasim Nauman (@QasimNauman) March 22, 2014
A Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Bloomberg their Pakistan printers, which is part of the Express Tirbune, had censored the story without their knowledge.
“We would never self-censor and this decision was made without our knowledge or agreement,” she wrote in an e-mail. “While we understand that our publishing partners are sometimes faced with local pressures, we regret any censorship of our journalism.”
The Times reported that roughly 9,000 copies of the International New York Times were censored by the Pakistan publisher. Online readers in Pakistan, however, were able to access the article.
Apparently, this isn’t the first time the paper has been censored in Pakistan. Earlier this month, some sections of an article exploring prostitution and sex businesses in China were also removed.