15 Jul 2013

SAS officer says Afghans unreliable

8:55 pm on 15 July 2013

A senior SAS officer has told the High Court in Wellington that Defence Force personnel serving in Afghanistan considered Afghan military staff to be unreliable.

The officer was giving evidence in a defamation case brought by the freelance journalist Jon Stephenson against the Defence Force and its chief.

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

His lawyer says a Defence Force news release implied that the journalist didn't visit a base in Kabul and interview its Afghan commander.

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

The SAS officer, who served at the base, told the court on Monday that he only believed eight out of every 10 things the base's Afghan commander would say.

The officer implied that such behaviour was typical of the Afghan people and stated that Mr Stephenson's counsel was fortunate not to know any Afghans.