IFJ Welcomes Release of Afghan Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the release of journalist Mohammad Asif Nang, but renewed its call for the government to provide a legally justified explanation for why Nang was detained.

Nang, the chief editor of Peace Jirga magazine, was held in detention by security officials for 13 days after reportedly publishing an article that angered the Afghan President.

According to the Afghan Independent Journalist Association (AIJA), Nang publicly accepted his detention at a press conference on July 15.

Nang, who is also the spokesman for the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, stated that as a public servant he believed the government had the right to conduct their investigation.

He also publicly apologised to President Hamid Karzai for the article he published which allegedly induced his arrest, explaining that it was a mistake which was accidentally ignored during the editing process.

“While it is a great relief that Nang has been released unharmed, there are still a number of unanswered questions hanging over the Afghan authorities,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

“From the very onset of Nang’s detention, the IFJ has held his arrest to be baseless and a violation of his human rights. Reporting a story which is critical of the government of the day is insufficient justification to hold a person captive for 13 days,” Park said.

Nang’s release comes almost a week after another Afghan journalist Kamran Mir Hazar was freed on bail on July 8.

Hazar, who works for Salam Watandar radio and is the chief editor for website www.kabulpress.org, was taken in for questioning by officials from the Afghan National Security Directorate on July 4. It is alleged that his arrest was linked to a number of articles posted on his website that were also very critical of the Afghan government.

During his four-day ordeal, it has been reported that Hazar described his detention in jail to be like the US-run military detainment camp in Guantanamo Bay, where he was subjected to torture and inhumane interrogation tactics.

Rahimullah Samander, president of the AIJA has expressed concern from this account, particularly the welfare of another journalist Tawab Niazi who is currently serving a one-year jail sentence for allegedly having links with Taliban insurgents.

The IFJ, the organisation representing over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries, urges President Karzai and his government to make public the investigations that led to the detentions of Nang and Hazar.

“For a free and democratic Afghanistan, the public has the right to know the actions taken by their representative government,” Park said.

“The Afghan government must bring reassurance back to their media community. Nang apologising to President Karzai for his arrest could create a dangerous precedent, encouraging Afghan journalists to self-censor their independent and critical work for fear of suffering a similar fate to his,” Park said.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on             +61 2 9333 0919       

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries