The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) is concerned that the dangers faced by Afghan journalists may
be escalating rapidly as Afghanistan
prepares for nation-wide elections on August 20.
According to the Afghan Independent
Journalists’ Association (AIJA), an
IFJ affiliate, a journalist from the
Al-Jazeera English news channel was kidnapped in Pitch district of Kunar
province on the morning of July 12. Sadullah Sail,
a correspondent with the channel,
went missing as he was travelling through the district and was later confirmed
by a spokesman of the Taliban Islamic militia to be in their custody.
He was released after several
hours, following the intervention of
the AIJA and local tribal notables.
Bordering the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan
and long a centre of militancy,
Kunar has been one of the most dangerous zones for working journalists in Afghanistan.
The IFJ joins the call by AIJA
president Rahimullah Samander for all armed groups to call off their attacks on
journalists and desist from taking them hostage for pecuniary or political
“The IFJ is concerned that the
dangers for journalism in Afghanistan
emanate not merely from the armed insurgent groups,
but also from state agencies unprepared to respect the basic credo of the
profession,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
two journalists for Al-Jazeera’s Arabic news channel were taken into custody by
National Security Directorate (NSD) after a report they prepared was held to be
“in favour of terrorism”.
The report was partly based on an
interview with a Taliban militia leader in Kunduz province, who was quoted as saying that he had a number of
suicide bombers at his disposal,
ready to strike at any moment. The German commander of NATO forces in the
region was also interviewed in the report.
Qais Azimy and Hamdullah Shah were
taken into custody on June 14 and held for three days,
reportedly handcuffed to a chair and deprived of sleep.
Their interrogators reportedly
accused them of broadcasting “fake” material and demanded to see all the
material they had recorded in preparing their news reports.
“The IFJ calls on Afghanistan’s
President to retract damaging comments that he made on this case and to acknowledge
publicly that independent journalism may bring home hard truths to him and the
people of the country,” White said.
“We advise the message be heeded, and condemn punishment of the messenger.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents
over 600,000 journalists in 120