Al Jazeera slams ISAF over arrests

Network seeks immediate release of two cameramen detained by foreign troops in Afghanistan.

    " /> " allowfullscreen="true">

    Al Jazeera has called on the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) to immediately release two of its cameramen arrested in Afghanistan over the last 72 hours.

    In a statement issued on Wednesday, Al Jazeera said the arrests were "an attempt by the Isaf leadership to suppress its comprehensive coverage of the Afghan war".

    The two Al Jazeera cameramen detained are Mohamed Nader and Rahmatullah Nekzad.

    According to Nader's wife, he was picked up from his home in southern Kandahar by Isaf troops on September 22.

    Rahmatullah Nekzad was arrested by Isaf in Afganistan

    She said she was woken up when the troops raided their home during the night. The troops then proceeded to arrest her husband, removing him from his bedroom, she said. The troops also confiscated some of their valuables.

    Nekzad, the other cameraman working for Al Jazeera in a freelance capacity, was arrested two days earlier under similar circumstances in Ghazni province.

    Isaf, though, in statements described both as "suspected Taliban media and propaganda facilitator[s]".

    "The insurgents use propaganda, often delivered through news organisations as a way to influence and in many cases intimidate the Afghan population," Isaf wrote to Al Jazeera.

    "Coalition and Afghan forces have a responsibility to interdict the activities of these insurgent propaganda networks. Individuals detained as a consequence will be investigated and if substantiated will remain in detention awaiting Afghan judicial review.

    "Each case will be investigated and reviewed in accordance with standard Isaf and USFOR-A procedures," the statement said.

    Al Jazeera response

    Al Jazeera, however, strongly rejected the claims and insisted the two were innocent.

    "There are two very important issues here, one is the vagueness of the allegations against this cameraman: what exactly is the allegation of being 'a propagandist' - how do you define that?" Anthony Mills, from the International Press Institute in Geneva, told Al Jazeera.

    "If it just means that as a cameraman he was doing his work as a journalist filming the violence which we know has been wrecking that country in recent years - I think one has to be really careful before jumping to these kinds of accusations and arresting the cameraman."

    If there are no concrete criminal charges behind the arrest, then they should be released immediately, Mills said.

    The arrests follow a recent pattern of escalation by Isaf and coalition forces to target Al Jazeera journalists in Afghanistan.

    Recently, Al Jazeera's Afghan bureau chief Samir Allawi was threatened and pressed to change the editorial line.

    Al Jazeera, however, said it will continue to maintain its coverage on the basis of fair and impartial journalism in line with its Code of Ethics and will not bias its coverage in favour of any party or coalition despite pressures being imposed on it.

    As part of their work, cameramen and crew need to contact all sides of those involved in a particular issue, which in this case includes Isaf forces, the Afghanistan government as well as the Taliban.

    These contacts should not be seen as a criminal offence but rather as a necessary component of the work that journalists undertake, the channel said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    John Pilger Q&A: 'US missiles are pointed at China'

    John Pilger Q&A: 'US missiles are pointed at China'

    Journalist John Pilger thinks the US and China might be on the path to war. "My film is a warning," he says.

    Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

    Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

    No country in the world recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

    Sadly but frankly, Donald Trump is not going anywhere

    Sadly but frankly, Donald Trump is not going anywhere

    Trump isn't going to be impeached by this or perhaps any future Congress as currently constituted.