‘Convicted Pakistani journalist aided Afghan rebels’
JALALABAD (Pajhwok): A Pakistani television journalist was sentenced to four years in prison on the basis of evidence proving his guilt of assisting Afghan militants, judicial officials in eastern Nangarhar province said on Tuesday.
A court in Jalalabad convicted Faizullah Khan, a reporter for the Karachi-based privately owned news channel ARY News, of illegally entering the country and sentenced him last week.
The authorities had also accused Khan of spying, but the three-judge bench dismissed the espionage charge, his lawyer told a Pakistani newspaper.
Nangarhar appellant court head Justice Ashraf Amin told Pajhwok Afghan News that the Pakistani journalist had been arrested a few months ago in the Lalpura district and was convicted on Sunday last for violating Afghanistan’s laws and entering the country without legal travelling documents.
He said there was evidence the journalist had assisted local insurgents, but stopped short of going into details.
Nangarhar primary court official Wafiullah Usmani said the Pakistani journalist had been assisting the Taliban.
He said the journalist travelled to Afghan areas out of the government’s control and held meetings with local insurgents and was arrested along with two Pakistani militants.
He said the attorneys had accused the Pakistani journalist of spying but the charge was dropped for the lack of evidence.
Usmani said photos found in Khan’s cell phones showed he assisted the insurgents. “There are pictures in Faizullah Khan’s cell phone in which he posed with arms and stood next to ammunitions.”
ARY News Senior Vice President Ammad Yousaf said Khan had traveled to Peshawar in April to report along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and had been regularly checking in with his colleagues. Then he suddenly stopped communicating. A few days later, on April 27, ARY received a call informing the channel that Khan was being detained in a Jalalabad jail, Yousaf told CPJ.
"We call on Afghan authorities to immediately release Faizullah Khan," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. "No journalist should face such a harsh prison term for going about reporting."
In the days following Khan's arrest, ARY notified Pakistani officials, who raised concerns with tribal chiefs and officials in Afghanistan, but were unsuccessful at gaining Khan's release, Yousaf told CPJ. An appeal in the case has been filed, he said.
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