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Television producer attacked by gunmen; radio journalist assaulted by police; another journalist detained for a week

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an 11 December 2007 IFJ media release:

Afghanistan: Journalists Continue to Face Culture of Impunity in Afghanistan

Gunmen chase and shoot at television producer in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned about reports from the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) about a series of attacks against journalists.

According to the IFJ-AIJA project office, unidentified gunmen in two cars chased a producer with Afghanistan Radio Television (ART), Ali Asghar Akbarzada, as he drove home from work on December 3. The attackers fired shots at Akbarzada, who was uninjured.

Akbarzada told the AIJA that he had no personal disputes. He believed he was targeted due to his program, Ayna-e-Share (City Mirror), in which he discusses corrupt government officials, criminals and other sensitive issues.

The gunmen had escaped by the time police arrived, although bullets were found at the scene.

The IFJ urges the police to investigate the attack promptly to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

Police threaten and abuse radio journalist

Omar Mohammadi, a radio journalist for Salam Watandar, was verbally and physically abused by police on December 4 while he reported on a suicide attack on the airport road in Kabul.

Mohammadi said he was attacked by a police officer who grabbed his recorder from him while trying to kick and punch him. Bodyguards working with police also reportedly pointed their guns toward Mohammadi. Police returned Mohammadi's equipment several hours later.

Journalist released after week in detention

Ehsanullah Shahidzai, a journalist for a state-run ART (Afghanistan Radio Television) Laghman radio station in the eastern Laghman province, was released on December 4 after a week in detention. He had been accused of having links with the Taliban and expressing anti-government sentiments.

Shahidzai was freed after representatives from the AIJA and the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists (CPAJ) met national security officials at the provincial centre of Mehtarlam to negotiate his release.

The IFJ joins the AIJA and CPAJ in calling on authorities in Afghanistan to guarantee freedom of expression as a democratic right, and to investigate attacks quickly and thoroughly to send a clear message that persecution of the press will not be tolerated.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

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