Friday, July 25, 2008

Journalists and other prisoners

An alleged female Al Qaeda member is reportedly being held by the US in Afghanistan:

Asian HR body demands UN probe into detention of Pakistani woman at US base

LAHORE, July 25 (ANI) - The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has reportedly urged the United Nations to investigate the alleged detention of a Pakistani national Dr Afia Sadeeqi at a US military base in Afghanistan for the past five years.

The human rights body said that it feared that Sadeeqi, who went missing along with her children five years ago from Karachi, was being detained at a US prison in Bagram.

Accused of being a member of Al Qaeda and masterminding terrorist attacks in the US , Dr Sadeeqi is wanted by several US investigation agencies. Both Pakistani and US intelligence agencies had confirmed her arrest soon after her disappearance, but since then, the government has been denying any knowledge of her whereabouts, reported the Daily Times... (link)
RSF makes noise about Kambakhsh and Jawed Ahmad:
Reporters Without Borders today called for the release of Afghan journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh...

Perwiz Kambakhsh's appeal hearing has been adjourned since 15 June because of the absence of witnesses. Students and professors from the Mazar-i-Sharif University were due to give evidence but they have not yet been official summoned to Kabul.

"We cannot [understand] why the justice system does not want to release this young journalist, despite proof of his innocence. It is essential that the appeal court speeds up his trial", the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"The medical examiner who saw him has confirmed that he was tortured by the security forces and the irregularities in the first trial constitute sufficient reasons to justify releasing him after already spending nine months in prison", it added.

Perwiz Kambakhsh's brother, the journalist Yaqub Ibrahimi, explained that the appeal is progressing very slowly, despite the campaign by Afghan colleagues and fellow citizens. "We have had to send a letter ourselves asking the students and professors who are witnesses to come so they can appear before the court," he said.

Hundreds of Afghan journalists and writers demonstrated in 15 provinces of the country on 8 July calling for the release of Perwiz Kambakhsh...

Reporters Without Borders also pointed out that Jawed Ahmad, Afghan contributor to the Canadian television channel CTV, has been held without trial by the US Army since 2 November 2007, on the Bagram air base, north of Kabul, accused of being an "enemy combatant" because of his alleged contacts with the Taliban. (link)
More on Mr. Ahmad, who has been in US custody without charge for over eight months:
Rights groups chide U.S. for holding Afghan journalist

KABUL, July 20 (Reuters) - Human rights and journalists' groups lashed out at the United States on Sunday for holding an Afghan journalist without charge and pushed for his immediate release.

The 22-year-old Jawed Ahmad, who worked for four years for Canadian network CTV, was detained last October by U.S. forces outside a U.S. military base in the southern province of Kandahar, his brother Seddiq Ahmad told a news conference.

Ahmad said prior to joining the network, Jawed served as a translator for U.S. Special Forces in Kandahar, a hotbed of Taliban insurgents.

Barbara Olshansky, litigation and advocacy director for the U.S.-based International Justice Network, said her mission was not only to condemn Jawed's detention, but "the entire United States' policy surrounding the seizure, detention and killing of journalists around the world". "The United States claims to be sowing the seeds of democracy ... and at the same time undermining those very nascent efforts by putting journalists in jail" ... (link)

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