AFGHANISTAN


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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press



APRIL 1, 2005
Posted: April 11, 2005

Abdul Jabbar Bazar, Aina TV
ATTACKED, THREATENED

Government officials in the city of Shibirghan in the northern Jawzjan Province threatened and attacked reporter Bazar after his story exposing local corruption aired on the private television channel. Local sources tell CPJ that officials threatened to attack Bazar again if he did any further reporting on their activities. Bazar suffered minor injuries.

In an interview with local reporters on April 3, Jawzjan Police Chief Nadir Fahimi confirmed the attack and pledged to arrest those officials responsible. Rural reporters in Afghanistan remained at risk of threats and violent attacks in reprisal for their work. Remote areas of the country were still under the control of warlords, and problems of lawlessness and illegal arms persisted.

JUNE 2005
Posted: June 21, 2005

Sayed Sulaiman Ashna, Tolo TV
Massood Qiam, Tolo TV
Shakeb Isaar, Tolo TV
THREATENED

A series of threats were made against Afghan journalists at the popular private television station Tolo TV in the capital, Kabul.

Sayed Sulaiman Ashna, a senior journalist with Tolo TV and Radio Arman and the host of the evening news program "Tawdi Kharabari" (Hot Talk), started receiving threatening phone calls soon after a June 6 interview with ex-Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil. Ashna told CPJ that he posed serious questions to Mutawakil in the interview, as he has done with the many other government officials who have appeared on his show since the station launched in October 2004. Soon after the show aired, unidentified individuals began calling Ashna, warning him that they know where he lives, accusing him of working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and threatening to kill him, Ashna told CPJ. Another caller warned him to stop broadcasting his program. Ashna says that this is not first time that he has received threats. He moved with his family out of Kabul and no longer appears on the air out of fear of reprisals, he told CPJ.

Massood Qiam, another Tolo TV reporter with the current affairs program "6:30 Report," said that local authorities recently threatened and intimidated him and other journalists from the show after he began investigating questionable land deals involving the former royal family. Tolo TV Director Saad Mohseni reported the threats to police in Kabul.

Another Tolo TV staffer, popular music video presenter Shakeb Isaar, was also under threat and was forced to live near the Tolo station in Kabul to protect himself before leaving the country for his safety. According to Mohseni, Isaar was forced out of the Kabul Unversity journalism school in retaliation for his work on the channel, which is provocative by local standards. Isaar was physically and verbally abused on numerous occasions, Mohseni told CPJ.


JULY 1 and 2, 2005
Posted: July 7, 2005

Rohullah Anwari, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Shershah Hamdard, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
IMPRISONED

The two RFE/RL reporters were arrested in Asa'ad Abad, the capital of Konar Province in eastern Afghanistan and taken to the capital, Kabul, according to Radio Free Afghanistan's chief editor, Sharifa Sharif. The two reporters were held for nine days before being released without explanation.

Intelligence officers arrested Rohullah Anwari, Konar-based reporter for RFE/RL, and Shershah Hamdard, an RFE/RL reporter based in Jalalabad, while they were covering the crash of a U.S. military helicopter. Anwari was arrested on July 1 and Hamdard on July 2, RFE/RL reported yesterday. Authorities searched Hamdard's house in Jalalabad, according to Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency.

After the journalists were transferred to Kabul, they staged a hunger strike to protest their detention, according to a statement from the local media organizations, the Afghanistan Independent Journalist Association and the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists. Local media groups condemned the arrests.

Authorities have not clarified the reason for the arrest of the reporters, but intelligence officers are searching the journalists' equipment for evidence of contact with Taliban militants, according to CPJ sources.

JULY 5, 2005
Posted: July 21, 2005

Habib Rahman Ibrahimi, Pajhwok Afghan News
HARASSED, THREATENED

Security guards at a government office in Kabul briefly detained and threatened Ibrahimi, a reporter for Pajhwok Afghan, a Kabul-based news agency.

Ibrahimi was reporting on Siddique Afghan, a prominent mathematician who had staged a hunger strike in front of the administrative affairs office in the capital, the reporter told CPJ. Afghan was protesting the government's rejection of a request to publish his books, according to Pajhwok Afghan.

Guards took Ibrahimi into custody immediately after the reporter took photographs of Afghan's protest signs and anti-American slogans, according to a report in Pajhwok Afghan. Ibrahimi said that he was held for 20 minutes and then threatened with unspecified consequences if he did not leave the premises immediately. Guards briefly confiscated his equipment and deleted his photographs.

Dadfar Spanta, an advisor to President Hamid Karzai, condemned the guards' treatment of the journalist, according to Pajhwok Afghan.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2005
Posted October 17, 2005

Ezatullah Zawab, Pajhwok Afghan News and Meena
IMPRISONED

Zawab was arrested on September 2 in Jalalabad, capital of eastern Nangarhar province, after criticizing local government officials. Zawab is a staff correspondent for the independent news service Pajhwok Afghan News and editor of the monthly Meena magazine.

Local religious leaders demanded his arrest after he wrote an article in Meena accusing officials in the province's information, tourism and religious affairs departments of incompetence, according to Pajhwok and the Afghan Independent Journalist Association (AIJA). AIJA said in a statement that the religious leaders considered the article to be an "insult." Journalist unions and press freedom groups across the country held meetings to protest Zawab's arrest.

Zawab was found unconscious by the side of the road one week later. He told the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) that unidentified gunmen from Jalalabad picked him up and held him blindfolded in a basement. He was threatened and interrogated before being released, he told AIJA.


SEPTEMBER 14, 2005
Posted October 11, 2005

Mohammed Taqi Siraj Bamyan
Baseer Seerat, Kabul Film Production Company
ABDUCTED

Unknown assailants seized Mohammed Taqi Siraj, chief editor of the weekly Bamyan, when he was returning from Nuristan Province, where he had been working for the Kabul Film Production Company. The company was making a video about culture in Kunar and Nuristan provinces for the Women's Affairs Ministry. The assailants also abducted cameraman Baseer Seerat, and ministry employee Shah Jan.

The Kabul Times reported that all three escaped while their kidnappers were sleeping on the night of September 21.

The three had been accompanying parliamentary candidate Hawa Alam Nuristani who was on a campaign tour for the September 18 election. Attackers shot and wounded Nuristani on September 14. She was taken to a Western forces' hospital. The circumstances of the shooting and abductions were not clear.


OCTOBER 1, 2005
Posted October 17, 2005

Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, Haqooq-i-Zan
IMPRISONED

Kabul's primary court convicted Nasab on blasphemy charges on October 22, and sentenced him to a two-year jail term.

Police arrested the editor of a women's rights' magazine in Kabul after local religious leaders accused him of publishing anti-Islamic articles.

The High Court ordered the arrest of Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, editor of the monthly Haqooq-i-Zan (Women's Rights), after articles published in the magazine were deemed "un-Islamic" and "insulting to Islam" by local clerics, the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) and the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists reported. An AIJA representative met with Nasab this morning in Kabul's Central Jail, and the editor denied publishing anti-Islamic material.

A member of the Kabul court, Zmarai Amiri, confirmed to the Pajhwok Afghan News wire service that Nasab was jailed for publishing anti-Islamic articles, which he said is prohibited under Afghanistan's press law. Amiri did not specify which articles in the magazine were alleged to be anti-Islamic.

A cleric from the outskirts of Kabul filed a police complaint against the magazine three months ago, saying it published material "against Islamic teachings," Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

President Hamid Karzai signed a revised media law in March 2004 that carried over an existing ban on content deemed "insulting" to Islam. Criminal penalties for press offenses were left vaguely worded, leaving open the possibility of punishment in accordance with the conservative Shariah law. When the law was signed, government officials said that journalists could only be detained with the approval of a 17- member commission of government officials and journalists.

In a report shown on Afghan state television after the verdict, Nasab rejected the conviction: "I do not accept the verdict by the court. It is a forced and illegal court." He planned to appeal the conviction. Nasab was being held in Kabul's central jail where he is under threat from other inmates because of the nature of the charges against him.