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Afghanistan 28 February 2008

US military accuses Afghan reporter of being "enemy combatant"

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today at the US military’s designation of Jawed Ahmad, a young Afghan journalist employed by the Canadian television network CTV, as an "enemy combatant".

"If the US military is going to make this kind of accusation, it should be based on material evidence and not just the findings of a mysterious panel of interrogators", the press freedom organisation said. "We once again fear that the US military is confusing journalistic work with spying for the Taliban".

Maj. Chris Belcher, a spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan, yesterday told reporters that Ahmad "was allowed to make a statement before an enemy combatant review board, which determined there was credible information to detain him because he was dangerous to foreign troops and the Afghan government".

Belcher added: "As an unlawful enemy combatant, he posed a threat to coalition forces and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Mr. Ahmad was in no way targeted because of his work as a journalist."

A US defence department spokesman told Reporters Without Borders that Ahmad’s case would be reviewed regularly but he refused to offer any details about reasons for his detention at Bagram military base, 50 km north of Kabul.

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