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Afghan journalist once held by U.S. is killed

Jawed Ahmad, who had been detained because of his contacts with the Taliban, is shot to death in Kandahar. Meanwhile, a court upholds a 20-year prison term for a student who asked about women's rights.

March 12, 2009|Associated Press

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — Gunmen in southern Afghanistan killed a journalist once held by the U.S. military as an enemy combatant, officials said Wednesday. Separately, reports said the Afghan Supreme Court upheld a 20-year prison sentence for a journalism student accused of blasphemy for asking questions about women's rights under Islam.

Unknown attackers killed Jawed Ahmad, 23, on Tuesday in the southern city of Kandahar, said Zalmay Ayubi, spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province. Ahmad worked for a number of Canadian news outlets in Kandahar.

In late 2007, Ahmad was held for 11 months by the U.S. military, which accused him of having contact with Taliban leaders and possessing their phone numbers and video of them, according to a complaint filed by Ahmad's lawyers last year in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, reports said the Supreme Court upheld the decision of lower courts against Parwez Kambakhsh, who was convicted of blasphemy for asking questions in 2007 in a university class about women's rights under Islam. Prosecutors also said he illegally distributed an article he printed off the Internet that asks why Islam does not give women equal rights.

The case against the 24-year-old Kambakhsh has come to symbolize Afghanistan's slide toward ultraconservative views on religion and individual freedoms. Human Rights Watch called on President Hamid Karzai to pardon him.

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