December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Afghanistan

Afghanistan September 27, 2010


H.E. Hamid Karzai

President

Gul Khana Palace

Kabul

Islamic State of Afghanistan

Fax: (011.93.2) 252.634


Your Excellency:


We at the Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) are writing with great concern about the arrests by NATO coalition forces of three Afghanistan journalists who have been charged with collaborating with the Taliban.


We refer to the detention last Wednesday of Mohammed Naderi, a staff correspondent for Al Jazeera in Kandahar, the arrest on Monday of Rahmatullah Nekzad, a freelance correspondent for Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, and the arrest on Saturday of radio station manager, Hojatullah Mujadadi, in Kapisa province north of Kabul.


According to news reports, all three are charged with assisting the Taliban with propaganda activities. These non-specific charges raise serious questions about what constitutes legitimate reporting of both sides of the war and what constitutes “collaboration” through propaganda.


Initial reports said the U.S. and coalition forces described the three journalists as “facilitators.” Later, Major Sunset Belinsky of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said the arrests were made to “interdict the activities of these insurgent propaganda networks”.


We at the OPC Freedom of the Press Committee believe three criteria must be established before arrests like these are made. Firstly, the military forces involved should be able to provide specific charges and detail for their accusations. Secondly, it should be accepted that journalists who travel with and write about the Taliban first-hand have the right to do so. Thirdly, it should be established that a coalition that accepts U.S. funds and military assistance should be willing to adopt the goals and values of an open press policy.


It is especially disturbing that after two journalists — Mr. Naderi and Mr. Nekzad — were arrested in post-midnight raids on their homes that coalition forces initially made no mention of the arrests. As their editors have protested, these raids were totally egregious; the journalists would have complied with a simple request to come in for questioning.


Unless NATO forces can provide specific charges to justify the detentions, we urged you to immediately release these journalists. Afghan media organizations and human rights groups are equally alarmed about these raids. Instead of quelling what the military sees as “propaganda,” these actions do the opposite — generate ready-made propaganda for the Taliban to use against Western values.


Our position in no way seeks to impede coalition forces from their mission of defeating the Taliban. But that mission includes support for the democratic values that the Taliban seek to destroy. We want to insure that the Afghan people see U.S.-led forces upholding free speech even in a difficult war zone.


Respectfully yours,

Robert J. Dowling
Larry Martz

Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:


H.E. Barack Obama

President

United States of America

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

Fax: (202) 456.2461


H.E. Said Tayeb Jawad

Ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Islamic State of Afghanistan

Kalamora Road, NW

Washington, D.C.

Fax: (202) 483.6488


Ambassador Zahir Tanin

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Islamic State of Afghanistan to the United Nations

360 Lexington Avenue

New York, N.Y. 10017

Fax: (212) 972.1216


H. E. Karl W. Eikenberry

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan

Embassy of the United States of America

The Great Mastoid Road, Kabul

Afghanistan

Fax: (011.93.2) 230.1364


Ms. Jean MacKenzie

Afghanistan Programme Director

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

jmackenzie2004@yahoo.com


Maria Otero

Under Secretary of State for Democracy
and Global Affairs

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520