Afghan TV journalist is detained
By Bilal Sarwary
BBC News, Kabul
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
The authorities in Afghanistan have detained a prominent journalist after the broadcast of a documentary which was critical of members of the cabinet.
Mohammad Nasir Fayyaz was detained, released and has now contacted the BBC to say he is in detention again.
Mr Fayyaz is the presenter of an investigative programme called The Truth, which recently strongly criticised two government ministries.
Officials say they are “working hard” to secure his release.
In a recent edition of The Truth, Mr Fayyaz criticised two cabinet members – including the water and energy minister – of under-performing in their jobs.
His programme featured a performance graph which showed how well various government ministries were functioning.
Many people in government are not used to such critical analysis – Afghanistan does not have a tradition of investigative reporting – and it is thought that is why the journalist has been detained.
Mr Fayyaz also appears to have upset some members of the government.
Water and Energy Minister Ismail Khan recently accused Mr Fayyaz of corruptly asking him to ensure power was provided to his residence 24 hours a day – a request which Mr Khan said was refused.
Mr Fayyaz has denied the minister’s allegations.
The journalist was initially arrested by intelligence officials on Monday, but now appears to have been detained again after giving an interview to the BBC.
He said that he is currently being held by intelligence officials in a locked bathroom.
Afghan intelligence officials have refused to comment on his case.
However a spokesman for the ministry of information and culture, Hameed Nasery Wardak, told the BBC that officials are working hard to release him.
”We are trying to free him and I am 95% sure that he will be released very soon,” Mr Wardak said.
Meanwhile, Fawzia Koofi, a member of parliament from north-eastern Afghanistan, has strongly criticised the detention.
”When people voted in the elections, they did so because they believed in democracy and freedom of speech,” she said.
“Our government shouldn’t be arresting reporters. If some ministers think that this reporter said something which was not based on truth and against the norms of journalism, than they should have launched a compliant against him.”
Colleagues at the TV station where Mr Fayyaz worked have called for his immediate release.
“This man has done nothing wrong except do his job. He does not deserve to be in detention,” one told the BBC.