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Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old journalist, was arrested in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of the northern province of Balkh, on 27 October 2007 on charges of blasphemy and “disseminating defamatory comments about Islam.” Under repeated pressure from the Council of Mullahs and local officials, a Mazar-i-Sharif court sentenced him to a 20-year prison sentence on 21 October 2008 after quashing the death sentence he received last January

A journalism student at Balkh university and a reporter for the newspaper Jahan-e-Naw (“The New World”), Kambakhsh was arrested after downloading an article that analyses what the Koran says about women. It has been established that he is not the author of the controversial article, which came from an Iranian website.

Rahimullah Samandar, the head of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association, says his arrest is linked to articles written by his brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, criticising the Balkh provincial authorities. Ibrahimi says the verdict is “unjust” and urges the international community to support his brother.

Dear Mr. President,

I would like to refer you to the case of Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a student and journalist who was arrested on 27 October 2007 and was sentenced to a 20-year prison sentence on 21 October 2008. To our knowledge, all he did was download and keep an article from the Internet in accordance with the freedom of expression that is guaranteed by the Afghan constitution.

He was furthermore tried without being able to defend himself legally, in violation of the constitution’s principles. In view of the urgency of the situation, I urge you to ask your government to have the sentence quashed, to have all the charges against him withdrawn and to have him released.


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