Afghanistan - Robert M. Gates asked to intercede on behalf of Afghan journalist held by US military at Bagram



    MONTREAL, Feb. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is concerned
about Jawed Ahmad, an Afghan journalist employed by Canadian Television (CTV),
who has been held by the US military at Bagram airbase, north of Kabul, since
November 2007. The Americans are holding him without trial because of his
contacts with the Taliban as a journalist.
    "We call on US defence secretary Robert M. Gates to intercede on behalf
of this young Afghan reporter who is clearly the victim of an arbitrary
decision," the press freedom organisation said. "The lack of legal procedures
and material evidence confirms that his detention is unjustified. We point out
that it is not illegal for journalists to have professional contacts with all
parties to a conflict including, in Afghanistan, the Taliban."
    The US military are currently holding at least two other journalists -
Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami Al-Haj, in Guantanamo, and Associated Press
photographer Bilal Hussein, in Iraq.
    Aged 22 and also known by the pseudonym of Jojo Yazemi, Ahmad was
arrested by US soldiers in an airbase in the southern city of Kandahar where
he was accompanying Canadian journalists working for CTV. The US soldiers
accused him of having the numbers of Taliban leaders in his mobile phone and
of interviewing them.
    His brother, Siddique Ahmad, told Reporters Without Borders that, with
the help of the International Red Cross, he was able to talk to him by video
link on 29 January. He said he had been beaten and had lost weight since being
held in Bagram. CTV has also confirmed that he is being held.
    The detention centre at Bagram airbase has often being criticised for its
harsh conditions and mistreatment of prisoners. The New York Times reported in
2005 that two detainees, who were later cleared, were beaten to death there by
guards in 2002.




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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