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Safety of two formerly detained Afghan journalists still an issue according to IFJ

International Federation of Journalists
Thursday 20 September 2007

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The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) continues to express deep concern for the welfare of two Afghan journalists who were recently released from varying periods of detention by security officials.

The IFJ believes that both are still under government surveillance and have been facing repeated threats.

According to IFJ associate, the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), Tawab Niazi, a freelance journalist and Kamran Mir Hazar, the chief editor of independent news website www.kabulpress.org , are still fearful of their lives despite being released from detention almost a month ago.
“From these examples it is obvious that press freedom is still a far reality in Afghanistan,” said Jacqui Park, IFJ’s Director for the Asia-Pacific.
Tawab Niazi was released on August 17 after being sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for allegedly being in contact with representatives of the Taliban.

The AIJA has learnt that during his detention all of his possessions were seized and he was threatened with re-arrest if he reported on his jail experience. Since his release, his movements have been restricted to his home for fear of his personal safety.

Similar confinement has been experienced by Mir Hazar. He and his wife have been living at the Internews office compound since his release earlier this month.

Mir Hazar has been interrogated twice this year by the Afghanistan National Security Directorate (ANSD) after posting articles that were critical of government activity.

The AIJA can report that during his imprisonment he was questioned about his work and was told he had no right to criticise the government and would be arrested again if he continued to do so. He has reportedly had to curtail the material posted on his website as price for his freedom. Visitors to the kabulpress.com website are greeted with the announcement that it has stopped publishing because of censorship (see the English language website at: http://kabulpress.org/my/en/ .)

“Let it be known that the unfounded harassment of media workers is internationally recorded and opposed. Despite the growth of the industry, there is an unrelenting infringement on the rights of journalists and writers to publish freely,” Park said.

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