Monday, September 29, 2008

Evidence supports allegations

CTV journalist Steve Chao's affidavit adds corroborating details to Jawed Ahmad's allegation that he was arrested on a Canadian tip-off and subsequently tortured:

Freed Afghan journalist blames Canadian forces for ordeal

KANDAHAR, Sept 24 (Canwest) - The Afghan journalist who was freed this week after almost a year in an American jail on undefined terrorism allegations charged Wednesday that his hellish ordeal was as much the fault of Canadian Forces as those of the US...

His allegations receive some backing from a fascinating affidavit - obtained by Canwest News Service on Wednesday - filed by a colleague at CTV, who described how Canadian soldiers voiced suspicions about the young journalist more than a year ago, and how U.S. troops once held the two of them at gunpoint, threatening to shoot them on the spot...

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition has said Yazamy had access to the Red Cross, enjoyed regular medical treatment and never complained of abuse.

The journalist said both the U.S. soldiers who first arrested him and his interrogators at Bagram both told him it was Canadians who warned he might be a security risk.

In a lengthy affidavit prepared for Barabara Olshansky, Yazamy's U.S. human rights lawyer, Steve Chao, a veteran CTV correspondent, provides a further, intriguing glimpse at what might have been behind the arrest.

Chao relates how the fixer was temporarily fired by the network last fall because he had lost $300,000 to Nigerian scam artists, racking up a debt CTV feared might put their crews in danger inside Kandahar city. The network re-hired him later when he had repaid the money. But in the interim, Canadian officers banned Yazamy from the base and confided they were suspicious of how quickly he arrived at the scene of Taliban attacks, suggesting he might have some advance knowledge of them.

Then, just weeks before his arrest, Yazamy took a boy wounded by Canadian soldiers to Kandahar Air Field, after which both he and Chao were confronted by two armed U.S. soldiers in civilian clothes, who questioned the reasons Yazamy was there.

"The two men accused JoJo of lying, and, pointing the gun close to our heads, they said they had the right to shoot us and kill us right then and there," Chao, CTV's Beijing correspondent, said in the document. "We were absolutely terrified for our lives."

The reporter said he later discussed the incident with a senior Canadian officer - Lt.-Col. Grant Dame - who called the Americans "cowboys." However, Dame again voiced suspicions about Yazamy's activities and said the fixer would continue to be banned from the airfield, Chao recalled... (link)

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