Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Sultan Munadi

It was a dangerous year for journalists. Reporters working in conflict zones were detained in cities from Mogadishu, Somalia, to Pyongyang, North Korea, and were endangered in nations from the Philippines to Afghanistan. The tribulations of imperiled foreign correspondents often grab headlines back home, but the stories of the local journalists and translators who risk their lives every day to help get the news out usually do not. In September, Sultan Munadi, an Afghan journalist who often worked with the New York Times, was killed in a predawn raid as British troops attempted to rescue him and Times correspondent Stephen Farrell from the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. Munadi, a 34-year-old father of two, was shot to death as he and Farrell escaped from the building in which they had been imprisoned. Shortly before his death, Munadi had written a post on the Times' At War blog about why, as a seasoned journalist with a master's degree in public policy from Germany, he chose to continue to work in his deteriorating nation. "And if I leave this country, if other people like me leave this country, who will come to Afghanistan?" Munadi wrote. "Will it be the Taliban who come to govern this country? That is why I want to come back, even if it means cleaning the streets of Kabul."