Reporter death penalty not final: Afghan information ministry
Thu Jan 24, 4:14 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan’s information ministry said Thursday a court’s decision to sentence an Afghan reporter to death on blasphemy charges was not final and the case would be handled “very carefully.”
However, the case involving 23-year-old Perwiz Kambakhsh did not relate to his journalistic activities and therefore was not a matter for the ministry, which handles media matters, it said in a statement.
The primary court in the northern province of Balkh issued the death penalty for Kambakhsh on Tuesday for distributing articles downloaded from the Internet that are said to question the Koran — which is a crime in Islamic law.
“The ministry is concerned about Perwiz Kambakhsh’s case,” the ministry statement said.
“But his arrest and sentence given to him has not been in relation with his journalistic activities and thus has no connection with the work of this ministry,” it added.
Afghan and international media rights groups say the case is about basic democratic rights and comes amid increasing pressure on journalists. They have called on President Hamid Karzai to intervene.
Kambakhsh, who was arrested three months ago, is a volunteer reporter on a small newspaper called Jahan-e Naw (“The New World”) in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif and a media student at Balkh University.
The small daily has not published for about two months.
The information ministry however expressed optimism that the country’s judiciary system would make sure proper justice was applied.
“The ministry is confident that since the primary court’s ruling is not the final decision, Afghanistan’s judicial system will handle issue of death penalty very carefully and implement justice,” it said.