Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Afghan press repression

Freedom of the press is still under attack in Afghanistan:

Afghan reporter detained after criticising government

KABUL, July 29 (Reuters) - Afghanistan's intelligence agency has detained a television journalist after he broadcast a programme critical of the government, his channel said on Tuesday.

The political discussion programme, called "The Truth", was pulled off air half-way through on Sunday after private Ariana TV received a call from the National Directorate of Security (NDS), officials from the broadcaster said.

NDS agents later arrested the programme's presenter, Mohammad Nasir Fayaz, the officials said...

The government said Fayaz had insulted ministers...

The government has arrested a number of reporters in recent years and rights groups say freedom of the press, one of the few achievements since the end of Taliban rule, is now under threat. (link)
The BBC adds some details:
Afghan TV journalist is detained
By Bilal Sarwary

KABUL, July 29 (BBC) - The authorities in Afghanistan have detained a prominent journalist after the broadcast of a documentary which was critical of members of the cabinet.

Mohammad Nasir Fayyaz was detained, released and has now contacted the BBC to say he is in detention again.

Mr Fayyaz is the presenter of an investigative programme called The Truth, which recently strongly criticised two government ministries...

In a recent edition of The Truth, Mr Fayyaz criticised two cabinet members - including the water and energy minister - of under-performing in their jobs...

Water and Energy Minister Ismail Khan recently accused Mr Fayyaz of corruptly asking him to ensure power was provided to his residence 24 hours a day - a request which Mr Khan said was refused.

Mr Fayyaz has denied the minister's allegations.

The journalist was initially arrested by intelligence officials on Monday, but now appears to have been detained again after giving an interview to the BBC.

He said that he is currently being held by intelligence officials in a locked bathroom.

... Fawzia Koofi, a member of parliament from north-eastern Afghanistan, has strongly criticised the detention.

''When people voted in the elections, they did so because they believed in democracy and freedom of speech," she said... (link)
Detaining journalists has become something of a pastime for Afghan authorities, as we've seen in many blog postings on condemned reporter Perwez Kambakhsh. Also, last month authorities detained a radio reporter from central Afghanistan:
Afghan Radio journalist illegally detained by officials in Daikondi Province

KABUL PRESS, June 19 - Afghan journalist and chief editor of Radio Daikondi, Mohammad Raja, was detained Wednesday night by local authorities. He was released Thursday morning, but it is feared that he will be detained again.

Raja had recently delivered several reports criticizing the governor Sultan Ali Orozgani...

This was Raja’s second detention in recent months. Orozgani has made it known that he wants full control of Radio Daikondi... (link)

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