An article about Pakistan’s relationship to al-Qaida and its knowledge of Osama bin Laden’s last hiding place within its borders, was censored from the front page of about 9,000 copies of the International New York Times in Pakistan on Saturday, and apparently removed by a local paper that has a partnership to distribute The Times.
An image of the front page – with a large blank space where the article appeared in other editions – traveled rapidly around social media Saturday. A spokeswoman for The New York Times, Eileen Murphy, said the decision by the partner paper, The Express Tribune, had been made “without our knowledge or agreement.”
The partner was recently the subject of an attack by an extremist group, she said. “While we understand that our publishing partners are sometimes faced with local pressures,” she said, “we regret any censorship of our journalism.”
Though the article appeared to have been excised from all copies of the newspaper distributed in Pakistan, the story seemed to be available to Pakistani readers online, Murphy said. There was no answer at a number listed for the partner paper’s parent company, the Lakson Group, on Saturday.
It was not the first time The New York Times had seen its content changed by local partners. This month, sections of an article about prostitution and other sex businesses in China were blanked out in Pakistani editions of The International New York Times.
In January, a Malaysian printing firm blacked out the faces of pigs, also in The International New York Times. The BBC reported that the firm had said it did so because Malaysia is “a Muslim country.”