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Editor assaulted by police; journalist still detained by US military without charges

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

US Military Must Explain Continuing Detention of Journalist in Afghanistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) demands an explanation from the United States Government for the continued detention without charge of Afghan journalist Jawed Ahmad.

According to the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA), an IFJ associate, Ahmad was on assignment for Canadian Television (CTV) when he was arrested by US military forces at Kandahar airport on September 2, 2007.

Ahmad, 22, is accused of having contacts with local Taliban leaders and possessing a video containing Taliban materials. US forces are holding him at Bagram air base.

US officials continue to deny knowledge of Ahmad's situation, despite repeated attempts to draw the attention of the US Embassy in Kabul, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the US military, Ahmad's family told the AIJA.

Aside from concerns for Ahmad, the IFJ is alarmed that the security and safety of journalists and media workers in Afghanistan is under increasingly frequent threat.

Naqibullah Saiq, chief editor of Kal Choort Goye, a monthly newspaper, was reportedly stopped and beaten by local police in Faryab province on June 2. His mobile phone was reportedly confiscated.

The governor of Faryab province denied the allegations and reportedly said Saiq had entered a restricted area under police control.

However, the AIJA and local Wakht News Agency expressed concern that the incident was related to articles and cartoons critical of local officials and authorities, which were published in Kal Choort Goye.

"There is an alarming trend in Afghanistan of violence against journalists and media workers who report in the public interest on issues that involve members of the police force, local authorities and warring political groups," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"Journalists must be permitted to fulfill their essential role of promoting the right to information of all in a free democratic society, without fear for their personal safety."

The IFJ, AIJA and the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists (CPAJ) call on Afghan authorities to conduct an immediate independent investigation into the attack on Saiq.

They also demand that the US military account for the detention of Ahmad and release him, on the basis that it is not against the law for journalists to be in contact with multiple sides when reporting in a conflict zone.

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

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