Reporters Without Borders welcomes the undertakings given on 6 February 2008 by President Hamid Karzai as regards Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, the young journalist who has been sentenced to death on a trumped-up charge of distributing information that insulted Islam. Karzai told a delegation of Afghan journalists that they had no reason to worry about him.
"We want to believe that President Karzai really is determined to find a rapid solution to this appalling affair," the press freedom organisation said. "The death sentence passed on Kambakhsh by a court in Mazar-i-Sharif is unworthy of Afghanistan, whose constitution protects free expression. We call for the case to be quickly transferred to Kabul and for the conviction to be quashed."
Reporters Without Borders added: "This new abuse of the blasphemy law should prompt the Afghan authorities to find a way to provide better protection for freedom of expression, one that will be effective even when subjects as sensitive as religion are involved."
The delegation from the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association that met President Karzai on 6 February in Kabul briefed him about the case and asked him to intervene. Rahimullah Samandar, a member of the delegation, told Reporters Without Borders that Karzai gave them hope that Kambakhsh would be freed soon.
On 5 February, a presidential spokesman spoke of Karzai’s concern about the case but said the courts should do their work.
— from IFEX/RSF