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Two Afghan video journalists beaten by presidential candidate's observers

Supporters of presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai assaulted two cameramen working for Khurshid and Rahe Farda television channels. The incident occurred during the vote audit at the Independent Election Commission (IEC) head office in Kabul on Sunday 9 August 2014.

A member of Ghani-Ahmadzai's camp said to Tolo News, that the Rahe Farda cameraman crossed the designated line the media was supposed to stay behind and record.

"This cameraman for Rahe Farda television was not respecting the rules laid out," said Abdul Rahman Kharooti. "He crossed the line and a number of female observers were harassed."

Rahman Mirzad, the accused cameraman for Rahe Farda, has rejected the claims. He says that he went "to record the disagreements between the electoral teams over a result sheet," adding that his intentions were none other than to film the process.

During the brawl, another cameraman working for Khurshid television, Fawad Noori, was attacked for attempting to record the fight.

"I had not done anything, but wanted to record the scene," he explained. "I was not at fault."

After the incident, the observers forced all the journalists to go outside.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said, "no one has the right to stop the media from doing their work in the commission."

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's team said the media plays a key role in returning transparency to the process.

"If the media was not present, no one would know what is taking place at the commission during the audit," Zahir Aghbar, member of Abdullah's camp, said. "The media is presenting the facts."

According to the Afghan Mass Media law, article 4, the Government shall support, strengthen, and guarantee the freedom of mass media. Except as authorized under this law, no real or legal person including the government and government offices may ban, prohibit, censor or limit the informational activities of mass media or otherwise interfere in their affairs.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center condemns the actions taken against the cameramen and calls on the government to investigate the case and hold the violators accountable for their acts.

We also encourage both presidential camps to ensure the freedom of media activities by supporting reporters' right to access information.

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