IFJ Calls on Afghan Authorities to Release Journalist Immediately

The IFJ, the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries, has called for the immediate release of a journalist being held by government authorities in Nangrahar province, Afghanistan.

On September 2, Ezatullah Zawab, editor-in-chief for bi-monthly magazine Meena and staff reporter for Pajhwak Afghan News in Nangrahar, was arrested and detained by authorities.

Zawab's arrest appears to be connected with two reports that drew the ire of officials and local religious scholars. One story concerned religious scholars while the other was about the activities of authorities in the local Information and Culture Department.

It is not yet clear if Zawab has been charged.

"The IFJ is alarmed that Zawab has been detained without any formal reason, in what appears to be retribution for his reports," said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

"Using the powers of detention and arrest as a means to censor journalists and inhibit the independent media cannot be condoned by the government or allowed to become regular practice," said the IFJ President.

"Authorities must release Zawab immediately. In a fledgling democracy like Afghanistan, the media must be able report freely and not be forced into self-censorship through intimidation," said Warren.

Two days before his arrest, Zawab contacted the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) expressing concerns that he may be arrested.

AIJA members have protested outside the Information and Culture Department of Nangrahar every day since Zawab's arrest, calling for him to be released.

According to the AIJA, both the Religious Affairs Department or the Information and Culture Department in Nangrahar have denied any knowledge of Zawab's arrest.

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries