British Library turns down Taliban archive because of UK terror laws

(28 August 2015) The British Library is refusing to store a collection of Taliban material because of UK anti-terrorism legislation.

It took the decision not to store the archive, which has been compiled over the past three years, on legal advice.

The library was told that it could be in breach of the law if it made the material, which includes Afghan Taliban maps, radio broadcasts and news papers, accessible.

Since 2012 experts have been translating the archive into English as well digitising the information.

The Telegraph has the full story by David Millward.

The AFP is also reporting that despite hopes that the library would host a master copy of the digital collection, it got cold feet at the last minute, telling the project’s organisers that they feared they could be in breach of Britain’s increasingly stringent counter-terrorism laws.

British Library statement regarding the Taliban Sources Project:    In July 2015 curators from the British Library met with Thesigers, a consultancy that represents the Taliban Sources Project, to discuss whether the Library would be willing to acquire and give access to their large digitised archive.

Although the archive was recognised as being of research value, it was judged that it contained some material which could contravene the Terrorism Act, and which would present restrictions on the Library’s ability to provide access to the archive for researchers.

The Terrorism Act places specific responsibilities on anyone in the UK who might provide access to terrorist publications, and the legal advice received jointly by the British Library and other similar institutions advises against making this type of material accessible.

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