FaithWorld

Afghan journalist jailed for blasphemy goes free

September 8, 2009

kambakhsh-3An Afghan journalist, sentenced to death for blasphemy, reduced to 20 years’ jail on appeal, has been set free and is living in exile in an undisclosed country, a media watchdog has said.  Perwiz Kambakhsh, 24, a reporter with the Afghan Jahan-e Now daily, was sentenced to death in January 2008 by a court in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

(Photo: Kambakhsh at a Kabul court hearing, 21 Oct 2008/Omar Sobhani)

Kambakhsh was arrested and imprisoned for downloading and distributing an Iranian article from the Internet that said the Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women. Under Islamic law — stipulated in Afghanistan’s constitution — blasphemy is punishable by death.

In a statement on its website, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, which campaigns for press freedom, said Kambakhsh’s lawyer had confirmed to them Monday his release and that President Hamid Karzai had signed a pardon several weeks earlier. Karzai’s office was not immediately available for comment.

The arrest and sentencing of Kambakhsh drew criticism from a number of Western nations, the Afghan media and rights groups. FaithWorld has followed this story closely from his death sentence in January 2008, the October 2008 appeals verdict of 20 years in jail and appeals to President Hamid Karzai last March to pardon him.

Read the whole story here.

Here is an interview with Kambakhsh that Reporters without Borders recorded in a Kabul detention centre in February 2009:

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