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NATO frees Afghan journalist; two others remain in detention

NATO forces have freed one of three detained Afghan Al-Jazeera journalists, AP and other media outlets announced on Friday. The three had been detained on suspicion of spreading Taliban propaganda, by among other things filming insurgent attacks. Two still remain in custody.

Al-Jazeera cameraman Mohammad Nadir was released early on Friday, AP reported. IPI and other press freedom organisations had expressed concern over the arrests and the vagueness of the allegations.

Speaking of the arrest of one of the journalists – Rahmatullah Naikzad - in an interview with Al-Jazeera English on Wednesday, IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills had said: “If it just means that as a cameraman he was doing his work as a journalist, filming the violence which we know has been wracking that country in recent years, I think one has to be really careful before jumping to these kinds of accusations and arresting the cameraman.”

The two journalists who remain in custody are Hojatullah Mujadadi, a radio station manager in Kapisa province north of Kabul, who was arrested on September 18 by Afghan intelligence agents, according to AP, and Rahmatullah Naikzad, who works for Al-Jazeera and is a freelancer for The Associated Press, and was detained by coalition forces.

In a response to the arrests, Al-Jazeera was quoted by AP as saying: “As part of their work, cameramen and crew need to have contact with all sides of those involved in a particular issue, which in this case includes NATO forces, the Afghanistan government as well as the Taliban. These contacts should not be seen as a criminal offense, but rather as a necessary component of the work that journalists undertake.”

Following the release of Nadir, IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said: “We are pleased to hear that Mohammad Nadir has been released. However, the fact that he was so swiftly freed, following vocal protests from press freedom groups and others, substantiates our already-voiced concerns that he may have been arrested simply because of his work as a journalist, and not because of any concrete criminal acts. We would also urge the authorities in Afghanistan to free the two other Al-Jazeera journalists still in detention if they too have been arrested only because of their work.

Date posted: September 24, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 64