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Afghanistan 9 September 2005

Journalist freed after being held captive for six days

Reporters Without Borders today hailed the release on 8 September of Ezatullah Zawab, a correspondent of the Pajhwok Afghan News agency and editor of the local fortnightly Meena, who was kidnapped on 2 September in Jalalabad, the capital of the eastern border province of Nangarhar.

Zawab was found unconscious at about 1 a.m. near Samarkhel, in the interior of Nangarhar province. “I was kidnapped by six men in Jalalabad and taken away gagged and blindfolded in a pickup,” the veteran journalist said. They kept asking him why he insulted the mujahideen and Muslim clerics in his articles, and questioned him about his political sympathies.

Ayub Shinwari, the head of the criminal investigation police in Nangarhar, said a police patrol found Zawab. He had been held for six days in a cellar and received little food.


One journalist arrested in Jalalabad

Reporters Without Borders called for the immediate release of Ezatullah Zawab, editor of the bi-monthly Meena, who has been held in custody in Jalalabad, in the eastern province of Nangarhar, since 2 September 2005.

"It is appalling that in the run-up to legislative elections crucial for Afghanistan that journalists should be harassed by local authorities who act like despots," said the worldwide press freedom organisation.

"We urge the government in Kabul to intervene to secure the release of Ezatullah Zawab as soon as possible and to guarantee the safety of all journalists in Nangarhar Province."

Police in Jalalabad on 2 September arrested Zawab, who as well as editing Meena is provincial correspondent for the news agency Pajhwok Afghan News. Two days earlier he had tipped off the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) that the governor was out to punish him over satirical articles he had published that displeased the head of the provincial culture, information and tourism ministry as well as irking religious leaders.

Some 30 journalists in Jalalabad demonstrated outside the provincial administration offices to protest at Zawab’s illegal detention.

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