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Afghanistan 2 March 2007

Journalist freed after being held for a year because of baseless accusation

Reporters Without Borders today hailed the release of radio journalist Abdul Qudoos after nearly a year in detention. He was set free after a court in the eastern province of Parwan decided on 31 January to drop the charges of attempted murder that had been brought against him.

“It is deplorable that Qudoos spent 11 months in prison for no reason,” the press freedom organisation said. “He is the victim of nepotism among certain local officials who abuse their influence to harass their opponents. Samia Sadat, a member of parliament who falsely accused him, should be sanctioned and make to pay him reparations. This case should make the government in Kabul be more vigilant about complaints that are brought against journalists or human rights activists.”

Qudoos was freed one week after the judge dismissed the charges. “I went through some tough moments during this period,” he told the Afghan NGO NAI-Supporting Afghanistan Open Media. “I spent all this time in prison because of Madam Sadat’s political influence.”

After his release, the governor of Parwan province convened a meeting of elders to discuss the case. Qudoos has been asked not to talk to the press and not to ask for reparation, while Sadat has had to promise not to hound Qudoos any more.

Qudoos, who works for radio Sada-e-Sulh (Voice of Peace), was arrested while taking part in a training session in February 2006 after Sadat accused him of being behind an attempt to kill her shortly after the inauguration of the new Afghan parliament. She based her accusation on the mere fact that his radio station’s editor, Zakai Zaki, had been her leading opponent in legislative elections.

Sadat also tried to get the station closed down, claiming it was being used as propaganda tool by her political opponents. She never produced any evidence to support her allegations. Several witnesses said Qudoos was attending a workshop being held by NAI just a few hours before the murder attempt took place.

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