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IFJ Accuses NATO and Calls for Release of Al Jazeera Cameramen in Afghanistan

September 24, 2010

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for the release of two Al Jazeera cameramen, Mohammed Nader and Rahmatullah Nekzad, who were recently arrested in Afghanistan by the NATO-led forces on suspicion of working with the Taliban insurgents.

"The proper reporting of the Afghan war requires journalists to cover the story from all sides," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Afghan and Coalition forces have the right to have their say and to rebut reports they do not like, but there is never a justification for arresting journalists for doing their job. This is an intolerable form of censorship."

Media Reports say that the two cameramen were arrested during raids to their homes in Kandahar and Gazhni provinces by soldiers from the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan and have since been in detention.

ISAF officials reportedly told Al Jazeera that "insurgents use propaganda, often delivered through news organisations, as a way to influence and, in many cases, intimidate the Afghan population. Coalition and Afghan forces have a responsibility to interdict the activities of these insurgent propaganda networks."

On its part, the Qatar based Al Jazeera Cable Television channel rejected the accusations against its staff and accused NATO-led forces of "attempting to suppress its comprehensive coverage of the Afghan war".

The IFJ says journalists covering a war need to access information from all sides and accusations of propaganda against journalists should not be made lightly. The Federation says the ISAF may expose other journalists in Afghanistan to new threats including reprisals from militants for covering the government and NATO forces activities.

"It is inexcusable that NATO forces are opening the door to victimization and potential violence against journalists. It threatens impartial journalism and it puts media people in the firing line, "added White. "This is a blatant interference in journalists' affairs and our colleagues must be released forthwith."

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: 416-964-5735

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