U.S. forces release Afghan journalist

Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:48am EDT
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KABUL (Reuters) - The U.S. military has freed an Afghan journalist after holding him for nearly a year without charge, Afghan officials said on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old Jawed Ahmad, who worked for four years for Canadian network CTV, was detained last October by U.S. forces outside a U.S. military base in the southern province of Kandahar.

Jawed was freed this week from the main jail of U.S.-led forces at Bagram, north of the capital Kabul. Human rights groups said he was detained for having contacts with Taliban insurgents and possessing videos of the militants.

"I am free from hell ... After 11 months of being held in a cell that was a like a grave, I want to tell the world the story of my detention and I hope that the stories of others held at Bagram will also see the light of day," a journalist body quoted Ahmad as saying.

Prior to joining CTV, Jawed served as a translator for U.S. Special Forces and was wounded while working for them in Kandahar, a hotbed of militant activity.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomed Jawed's release.

"When reporting in conflict zones, journalists need to be able to gather information from all sides without threat of being labeled an enemy by one side or another," the IFJ said in a statement.

"Jawed Ahmad was held for a year without charge because he was doing his job as a journalist, which is to gather information from all sides to provide balanced and fair coverage. He should never have been detained, and his long-overdue release proves it."

(Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Jerry Norton)