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Afghanistan 10 March 2009

Journalist working with Canadian media, released five months ago by US military, gunned down in Kandahar

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that Jawed Ahmad, an Afghan journalist who worked for Canadian media, including the broadcaster CTV News, was gunned down this evening by two men in a vehicle as he was getting out of his own car in the centre of the southern city of Kandahar. Also known as “Jojo Yazemi,” he died on the spot. His body was taken to a nearby hospital where members of his family and friends have gathered.

“We offer our condolences to Ahmad’s family,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He was a talented and promising young journalist who had the courage to work with foreign news media. He was killed in cold blood after being unjustly detained by the US military for 11 months. Like the June 2008 murder of BBC reporter Abdul Samad Rohani, Ahmad’s murder must not go unpunished. We call on the Afghan government to launch an immediate investigation so that the killers can be quickly identified and brought to trial.”

Ahmad’s shocked brother told Reporters Without Borders he did not rule out any hypothesis as regards the motive. Several Afghan journalists told Reporters Without Borders they suspected the murder may have been ordered by the Taliban.

Kandahar provincial government spokesman Zalmai Ayobi confirmed Ahmad’s murder but offered no details.

Ahmad was arrested by the US military in 2007 on suspicion of being an “enemy combatant” because of his contacts with the insurgents. Claiming he posed a danger to the coalition forces and the Afghan government, the Americans held him at Bagram air base, north of Kabul, for 11 months.

After being released in September 2008, he told the organisation the Americans arrested him for being in touch with the Taliban. “But how can you work as a reporter in southern Afghanistan without contacting the Taliban?” he said. “It is normal and it is my right.”

He added: “After this period of detention, I feel even more of a journalist than before. I am very enthusiastic about the idea of going back to work. But above all, I want justice. I want to knock on all the doors, with my lawyers, so that those who detained and tortured me are punished.” He accused his prison guards of depriving him of sleep, hitting him and putting him in a cell with mentally disturbed detainees.

Ahmad recently told Reporters Without Borders he intended to write a book about his experiences in the Bagram detention centre.

Jawed Ahmad

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