Jalal Abad, July 15, 2014--A Pakistani television journalist was sentenced to 4-year prison term on the basis of illegal entering to Afghanistan and evidence proving his guilt of assisting Afghan militants, judicial officials said on Tuesday
Provincial primary court in eastern Jalal Abad convicted Faizullah Khan a reporter for the Karachi-based privately owned news channel ARY News last Sunday.
Nangarhar appellant court head Justice Ashraf Amin told Pajhwok Afghan News that 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 on late April.
According to Mr. Usmani, 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.”
But earlier ARY News reported that Faizullah Khan had been mistakenly crossing the border and requested the Afghan government to end the four years’ term of the reporter and to ensure his safe return to Pakistan.
On April 27, ARY News said the channel received a call informing that Khan was being detained in a Jalalabad jail. Four days later Sania Faiz, wife of Faizullah Khan, filed a petition in the Sindh High Court, in which she stated that her husband had gone to the tribal areas in line of his duties as a journalist, where either unintentionally he entered into the Afghan territory or was he trapped, after which he is under the custody of Afghan intelligence officials.
The petition appealed the court to order the Government of Pakistan for making efforts for the release of Faizullah Khan.
Afghanistan Journalists Center denounces the court decision to sentences Faizullah Khan to 4-year term in prison and calls for freedom of press.
It is important that the Afghan government ensure the reporter's protection and guarantee a fair trial to defendants based on an independent investigation.