Afghanistan - Journalist under sentence of death in Mazar-i-Sharif is "in constant danger," says brother at Paris news conference



    MONTREAL, March 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Afghan journalist Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi
gave a news conference today at Reporters Without Borders headquarters in
Paris about the plight of his brother, Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a fellow
journalist who is under sentence of death in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern
Afghanistan.
    "I last saw my brother on 7 March in prison," Ibrahimi said. "Like any
prisoner sentenced to death, he was very anxious. And he is in danger all the
time because there are around 30 criminals with him in his cell. He should be
transferred to a prison where he would be safe. That is why we have asked the
government not to put him in a prison with terrorists in Kabul."
    Contradicting what has been said in many reports, Ibrahimi insisted that
his brother never downloaded, printed or distributed a controversial report
about what the Koran has to say about women's rights.
    "This was a plot by students close to the fundamentalists who added his
name to this report," Ibrahimi said. "They then alerted the secret services
and the clerics. It was all trumped up. Perwiz never distributed this
document. This should be clear. I am the target behind all this because of my
articles criticising the crimes of the warlord and their allies, the religious
fundamentalists."
    Ibrahimi added: "After 20 days, the letter requesting the transfer of my
brother's case finally arrived in Mazar-i-Sharif. This allows us to hope that
the appeal will be conducted in better circumstances, especially as we have
found a lawyer who is ready to defend him."
    Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard also spoke at
the news conference, urging the Afghan authorities to do everything possible
to ensure that Perwiz is freed as soon as possible. "For the moment, the case
must be transferred to Kabul, the charges must be reformulated, and both he
and his family must be given protection," Ménard said. "In the long run, the
legislation on blasphemy must be amended in order to avoid similar cases in
the future."
    Ménard added: "We have obtained assurances from the Afghan ambassadors to
France and Spain that President Hamid Karzai would never sign a decree
authorising Perwiz's execution. This is an important point." A young student
and journalist who writes for the newspaper Jahan-e-Naw ("New World"), Perwiz
was sentenced to death for blasphemy by a Mazar-i-Sharif court on 22 January,
at the end of a summary trial held behind closed doors at which he was not
represented by a lawyer. He has been detained since 27 October.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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