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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Freedom at last

Monday, September 07, 2009

We are relieved to inform you that Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, the young journalist who was sentenced to death and then to 20 years in prison for downloading an article about the rights of women in Islam, was pardoned and released several weeks ago and left the country for fear of reprisals.

Kambakhsh’s lawyer confirmed to Reporters Without Borders today that his client was released several weeks ago after President Hamid Karzai secretly signed a pardon.

Many foreign governments had interceded with the Afghan authorities on behalf of Kambakhsh, while the London-based Independent newspaper gathered more than 100,000 signatures to a petition for his release. Reporters Without Borders also handed in a petition with several thousand names to a presidential adviser in Kabul.

A 23-year-old journalism student at Balkh university and a reporter for the newspaper Jahan-e-Naw (“New World”), Kambakhsh was arrested in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on 27 October 2007 on a charge of “blasphemy and distribution of texts defamatory of Islam.”

Under pressure from the Council of Mullahs and local officials, a Mazar-i-Sharif court sentenced him to death in a summary trial on 22 January 2008. Members of the security forces tortured him to obtain a confession. The sentence was commuted to 20 years in prison in October 2008.
posted by Travis, 4:35 pm

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