Joint appeal to Afghan government by Reporters Without Borders and La Repubblica one month after interpreter's abduction



    MONTREAL, April 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders and the
Italian daily La Repubblica today issued a joint appeal to the Afghan
government to do everything possible to obtain the release of La Repubblica
correspondent Daniele Mastrogiacomo's Afghan interpreter, Adjmal Nasqhbandi,
who will begin his second month in captivity tomorrow.
    Nasqhbandi and Mastrogiacomo were kidnapped together on March 5 but,
unlike the Italian reporter, who was released on March 19, Nasqhbandi is still
being held by Taliban under the command of Mullah Dadullah.
    Reporters Without Borders and La Repubblica also urged the Afghan
authorities to immediately release Rahmatullah Hanefi, the personnel chief of
a hospital run by the Italian NGO Emergency in the southern town of
Lashkar Gah, who has reportedly been held without charge in an Afghan prison
since March 20.
    "Mullah Dadullah's death threats against Nasqhbandi are extremely
reprehensible," the press freedom organisation and the newspaper said. "It is
clear the Taliban have already obtained a great deal by means of this
deplorable blackmail for which there is no justification. We call on the
Afghan government and all those with any influence to do everything they can
to get Nasqhbandi freed. We also call for Hanefi's immediate release. His
arrest without charge and without any reason being given is unacceptable."
    Dadullah addressed President Hamid Karzai in a video broadcast by the TV
channel Sky TG24 on March 29, threatening to kill Nasqhbandi if Karzai did not
release two of Dadullah's men in return. "If Karzai really is Afghanistan's
president, he must negotiate Adjmal's release" he said. "Karzai has so far
negotiated the release of foreigners but never the release of an Afghan
citizen. If there is no negotiation, we will kill him."
    The Taliban originally promised to release Nasqhbandi at the same time as
Mastrogiacomo. Their Afghan driver, Sayed Agha, who was kidnapped with them,
was beheaded on March 16, three days before Mastrogiacomo was freed.
    Hanefi was reportedly arrested one day after Mastrogiacomo's release, in
which he played a key role. An Italian foreign ministry spokesman announced on
April 2 that a Red Cross delegation had been able to visit Hanefi in an
undisclosed location.
    During a demonstration by some 400 people on Navone Square in Rome on
April 1 to demand the release of both Nasqhbandi and Hanefi, Mastrogiacomo's
sister read out a message from her brother to the Afghan and Italian
governments, to the UN, to NGOs working in Afghanistan and to foreign
embassies in Kabul. "Do your utmost to get my friends freed," he said, adding:
"My heart and my thoughts are with them."
    Il Manifesto reporter Giulana Sgrena, a former hostage in Iraq, also
spoke at the demonstration, saying there should be no difference in the
treatment of Italian hostages and those of other nationalities. On other side
of the podium from which she spoke, large photos of Nasqhbandi and Hanefi were
displayed. Parliamentarians Giovanni Russo Spena and Furio Colombo, and
another former hostage in Iraq, Simona Torretta, also paid tribute to the two
captives.
    Ten Afghan and Italian journalists, including the president of the
National Union of Afghan Journalists, Fazel Sancharaki, gave a news conference
yesterday in Kabul in which they also appealed to the Taliban to free their
fellow journalist, Nasqhbandi. Corriere della Sera reporter Lorenzo Cremonesi
said: "We, Afghan and Italian journalists and media assistants, would like to
appeal directly to the Taliban and in particular to Commander Mullah Dadullah,
who is holding our colleague Adjmal Nasqhbandi hostage, to release him
immediately."
    Duilio Giammaria of the Italian TV network Rai called on the Afghan
authorities to give the so far unknown reasons why Hanefi is being held.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, Canadian office representative,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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