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Television reporter beaten by security officials, his equipment temporarily confiscated

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ condemns beating of Afghan reporter covering Taliban-Korean hostage crisis

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the attack on an Afghani television reporter who was covering the Taliban-Korean hostage crisis in Ghazni province on August 28.

According to IFJ associate the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA), Ariana TV reporter Qasim Rahimi was assaulted by security officials on his way to where the negotiation talks concerning the release of 19 Korean hostages by the Taliban were being held.

Rahimi reports the security officials stopped his taxi, beat him and confiscated his equipment without any explanation or justification.

However, Ariana TV news manager Abdul Qadir Merzaai later said the equipment had been retrieved with the help of central and provincial police.

"As well as a physical attack on a journalist going about his daily work, such violence holds back media freedom and the public's right to information," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"The Korean hostage crisis is an important issue which has received global attention. It is a disgrace that Afghan security officials would disrupt the public's access to vital information," Park said.

Delegates representing the Taliban and Korea were in discussions in a bid to release the 19 remaining Korean Christian volunteers. The hostages have now been released and have returned to South Korea.

The group was abducted in July this year by Taliban members with the intention of forcing a prisoner-hostage exchange. During the 42-day ordeal, two male hostages were killed by the Taliban and two females were earlier released.

The IFJ strongly rejects the violence directed at journalists who attempt to carry out vital work in rebuilding Afghani society, and supports the AIJA's call to urge the Karzai government to ensure safety and protection for journalists working in Afghanistan.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries.

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