An Afghan journalist sentenced to death for distributing an article that allegedly violated Islam is actually being punished for reporting by his brother about abuses by northern warlords, a media group said Wednesday.
Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh, 23, was sentenced to death Tuesday by a three-judge panel in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif for distributing a report he printed off the Internet to fellow journalism students at Balkh University.
The judges said the article humiliated Islam, and members of a clerics council had pushed for Kaambakhsh to be punished.
The case now goes to the first of two appeals courts.
Jean MacKenzie, country director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which helps train Afghan journalists, said Kaambakhsh is being punished for stories written for IWPR by his brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi.
“We feel very strongly that this is a complete fabrication on the part of the authorities up in Mazar, designed to put pressure on Parwez’ brother Yaqub, who has done some of the hardest-hitting pieces outlining abuses by some very powerful commanders in Balkh and the other northern provinces,” MacKenzie said.
The media industry has exploded in recent years in Afghanistan, which now has dozens of newspapers and TV news channels. But journalists are routinely pressured by government officials or powerful factional leaders trying to prevent reporting on sensitive issues.
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