IFJ Concerned Over Health Situation of Afghan Editor on Trial for Blasphemy

The International Federation of Journalists today expressed its deep concern over the health situation of an Afghan magazine editor currently on trial for blasphemy.

The IFJ is concerned that the unlawful and unfair trial of Ali Muhaqiq Nasab, chief editor of Hoqoq-e-Zan (Women’s Rights) magazine, is having adverse affects on his mental and physical health.

These concerns come after Nasab, whose trial began on October 11, was unable to verbally communicate with the court for the second day running due to depression and extreme physical pain, leading to an indefinite postponement of his case.

“The IFJ is concerned that if Nasab continues to receive an unfair and unlawful trial his mental health will continue to deteriorate,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“The Afghan Government is using Nasab as an example to help stifle criticism of the Government. This has dangerous implications for journalists working in the region and will lead to increasing self-censorship and avoidance of reporting on important religious issues, “said Warren.

“We offer our support to Nasab during this difficult time and stand behind his fundamental right to free speech,” said Warren.

Nasab faces severe punishment for publishing an article questioning the severity of punishments for adultery and theft as set out by the most conservative interpretations of Islamic Law, which the prosecution is calling a work of atheism.

Observers have continually expressed concern over the fairness of the trial, including Nasab’s unlawful arrest and the biased questioning techniques used by both the prosecution and various judges during the trial.

When arresting Nasab authorities bypassed Afghan legislation that states journalists cannot be arrested until a government-appointed media commission has considered their case. Observers have also said that Nasab has continually had his responses to questions in court ignored or cut short.

The IFJ calls on the Afghan authorities to follow the mandate of Afghan legislation providing for press freedom, and drop the unfair and unlawful charges against Nasab immediately before his mental and physical state may deteriorate even more.

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

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