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Luxembourg erases mission details after NATO pressure

Luxembourg erases mission details after NATO pressure

by Yannick HANSEN 18.08.2021 From our online archive
Outlets cited a government press release that mentioned a rescue mission of NATO personnel which military alliance says was classified
Luxembourg's A400M new transport plane is expected to be used for a coming rescue mission in Afghanistan
Luxembourg's A400M new transport plane is expected to be used for a coming rescue mission in Afghanistan
Photo credit: Gerry Huberty

Luxembourg quietly deleted details about a rescue mission in Afghanistan from an official statement after NATO complained it contained classified information, which it asked several media outlets to remove from their stories.

Luxembourg's defense department of the foreign ministry had said on Tuesday that the country was assisting in a rescue mission of 17 NATO employees stranded in Afghanistan. Several media outlets - including the Luxembourg Times - mentioned that fact, citing a press release by the ministry.

A NATO spokeswoman later on Tuesday asked the Luxembourg Times to remove the detail from its story, saying it had not been confirmed. On Wednesday, she said that NATO had asked the government and media outlets to "rectify" the information, reiterating her request for the information to be taken down.

Luxembourg's foreign ministry has not corrected its original press release that it emailed to media outlets - a standard practice in case of wrong information - because "the information was already out there," ministry spokesperson Jo Clees said on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the ministry had taken out the passage when later posting the statement on its website.

The Luxembourg Times declined NATO's request, citing its editorial guidelines which say that only wrong information can be removed from stories. The information was also still visible on the website of the public radio broadcaster 100.7 and on the website of TV broadcaster RTL on Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Luxembourg media outlets widely reported on the government's efforts to use its newly-acquired A400M military aircraft to fly six Luxembourg residents out of Kabul after it was overrun by Taliban forces.

The foreign ministry refused to say when the plane will arrive in the region and whether it will carry Afghan helpers to safety.

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