We are asking you—journalists and news organizations—to help pressure the Afghan government to work for the release of Ajmal Nakshbandi, the freelance Afghan journalist who was seized with La Repubblica reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo and the group‘s driver Sayed Agha. As you know, Agha was beheaded a few days after the men were taken on March 5.
According to most sources, Ajmal is still being held by the Taliban group that abducted them and is still somewhere in Helmand province.
Ajmal was a journalist in his own right, and he augmented his income by working as a translator for other journalists and aid groups. As journalists, we all know men and women like him, and we know how much we depend on them to help us cover difficult stories around the world. We must do what we can to press for his safe release.
Ajmal’s case has been overshadowed by the controversial conditions under which Daniele Mastrogiacomo was released. But we cannot let that get in the way of pressing the government of President Hamid Karzai to do what it can to secure Ajmal’s release. We are not asking the government to trade prisoners or money for Ajmal, only that it continue to press for his release and not let his abduction fade from public consciousness. Afghan journalists are already applying that pressure; adding international voices to that call will help our colleagues there.
Because the situation is so precarious, rather than take the time to gather signatures for a petition, we are asking journalists and media organizations to fax or call Afghan diplomatic missions in their country, telling them of our concern and asking them to pass that concern along to President Karzai’s office. And, of course, feel free to call the president’s office directly.
To help in this effort, we have attached a list of Afghan missions in many countries, along with contacts for President Karzai’s office.
Joel Simon Executive Director