The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in its criticism of the harsh prison sentence imposed on TV journalist Faizullah Khan and is demanding the Afghan government immediately review the case with a view to granting Khan early release.
On July 12 Khan, a reporter for ARY News TV based in Karachi, was sentenced to four years jail for entering Afghanistan without proper documentation. A local court in Jalalabad dropped espionage charges that had also been made against him. Khan was on an assignment to interview a Taliban leader when he was arrested.
The PFUJ has condemned the court’s sentence and urged the Afghan government to withdraw the charges. In expressing solidarity with the journalist, the PFUJ also urged the Pakistan government to raise the issue with Afghan government at the highest level and demand Khan’s early release, adding: “The Afghan government should understand that Faizullah has been working as a journalist not as a spy so he should be released as soon as possible on humanitarian grounds.”
The IFJ urges the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments to act swiftly for the safe return of the journalist and to respect the rights of journalists gathering information.
The IFJ said: “It is deplorable the court has handed down such an excessive punishment when Faizullah Khan was merely carrying out his duty as a journalist. Journalists continue to take huge risks to investigate stories for the betterment of the society. We strongly believe this situation could be handled better rather than recourse to a wildly excessive jail term.”
The IFJ stands firm with the PFUJ and supports its call for the immediate release of Faizullah Khan.
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are dangerous regions for journalists to operate in, with poor safety and security situations, and impunity in attacks on journalists. The IFJ urges journalists operating in the region to remain vigilant about the possible dangers especially when traveling to remote areas.