Karzai orders release of two detained journalists
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday ordered the release on bail of two journalists detained for writing articles considered blasphemous against Islam, the chief justice said.
Mawlavi Fazl Hadi Shinwari told Reuters Karzai’s order came after Mir Hussein Mehdavi, chief of the Aftaab Weekly, and his deputy Ali Reza, an Iranian national, repented following their arrests last week.
“They will be released any moment today,” he said. However, Shinwari said the men were not being acquitted or pardoned and would be summoned to court to answer the allegations.
“They will be called when we have the case referred to us from the attorney’s office and will be tried. In jail, they repented and regretted what they had done and that is why he (Karzai) issued the order.”
Karzai’s move comes after rights groups and the United Nations expressed doubts about the legal grounds for the arrests. Shinwari insisted Karzai did not issue the release order under external pressure and Supreme Court officials said Aftaab would continue to be barred from printing until further notice.
Issues involving Islam remain highly sensitive in Afghanistan, where the hard line Taliban imposed strict sharia law until it was ousted by a US-led military campaign in 2001. —Reuters