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Journalist on death row ill from prison conditions, stress; his appeal further delayed

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

IFJ deplores delay in deciding Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh's appeal against death sentence

The International Federation of Journalists is deeply concerned and disturbed by the further delay in deciding on journalist Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh's appeal against a death sentence for the alleged crime of "blasphemy".

The IFJ has been informed by its associates in Afghanistan, the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA) and the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists (CPAJ), that the hearing scheduled for Sunday, May 25, was adjourned on the grounds of Kambakhsh's illness. This followed an earlier adjournment on May 18, on the grounds that a defence lawyer was not present for Kambakhsh.

Kambakhsh's brother, journalist Yaqub Ibrahimi, has informed the IFJ that the reason for his brother's ill health is his prolonged detention in highly unsanitary conditions and the severe psychological stress he has been under since his arrest in October 2007 and his conviction in January.

"We urge the judicial authorities in Afghanistan to do the fair thing by Kambakhsh, in the light of the strong free speech guarantees in the national constitution", said the IFJ Asia-Pacific: "Obviously, to prolong the young journalist's detention on the grounds of ill-health, when his ill-health is itself a consequence of his prolonged detention, does not meet any standard of fairness".

The IFJ urges the President of Afghanistan, His Excellency Mr Hamid Karzai, to intervene in the matter and ensure a fair and speedy determination of Kambakhsh's appeal.

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

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