Friday, July 25, 2008

U.S. HOLDING 12 JOURNALISTS IN MID EAST WITHOUT CHARGES

Anna Sussman, SF Chronicle - On Oct. 26 of last year, a 22-year-old Afghani journalist named Jawed Ahmad, working for Canadian Television, was arrested in his own country by the U.S. military. He was called to the Kandahar Airport, purportedly by a Canadian Television colleague (none reported contacting him that day), and promptly detained by American forces. He has been held without charges or trial for the past eight months in the detention center at Bagram Air Force Base, just north of Kabul. He is one of 12 journalists detained by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004, according the Paris-based press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders.

The trend is not only potentially disruptive to efforts to promote democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also may be illegal, particularly in the light of a recent Guantanamo ruling that held at least one offshore detention center accountable to the U.S. Constitution. That's why the Stanford Law School International Human Rights Clinic has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ahmad against the U.S. government. Clinic project leader and attorney Barbara Olshansky said that Ahmad committed no crime, and that his detention is a threat to both the rule of law, and to free speech.

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