Friday, September 19, 2008


A press release from the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX):


September 17 - IFEX members ARTICLE 19 and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) are calling on Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai to intervene in the case of a former journalist and a mullah who were sentenced to 20 years in prison last week for publishing a translation of the Koran.

On 11 September, former journalist Ahmed Ghous Zalmai and Mullah Qari Mushtaq were sentenced by a Kabul court to 20 years in prison for publishing a Dari translation of the Koran...

A five-year suspended sentence was also handed down to the printer, Mohammad Ateef Noori, who will be kept under police surveillance.

The defendants described the verdict as "illegal" and are planning to appeal.

Allegedly, Zalmai and Mushtaq used a Dari translation that had been done in the U.S., but failed to print the Arabic original alongside the translation, as required by Islamic law...

Zalmai was well known in the 1980s as a fairly outspoken TV journalist, hosting a call-in talk show, "People's Voice". He worked as a cultural attaché in an Afghan embassy after the fall of the Communist government. After several years of exile in the Netherlands, the Karzai government invited him back to work for public radio and television. Zalmai also headed the Afghanistan National Journalists Association and was spokesperson for the Kabul prosecutor's office for several years. (link)
Note that Zalmai is not only prominent, but obviously a friend of sorts to President Karzai. It is hard to miss the muscle-flexing message that ultra-conservatives are sending him.



Arthur Kent has settled out of court his lawsuit against the film studio which made Charlie Wilson's War last year. The film used clips of his TV reporting without permission.

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