RAWA News, July 29, 2008

RSF and CPJ call for the release of Naseer Fayyaz

AFGHANISTAN: Ariana TV programme host arrested on government's orders

RSF, 29 July 2008: Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of Mohammed Naseer Fayyaz, the host of the programme Haqeeqat (The Truth) on privately-owned Ariana TV, who was arrested yesterday by members of the Directorate for National Security (DNS) at the government's behest.

Naseer Fayyaz in Haqeeqat show
Naseer Fayyaz in popular Haqeeqat show.

"Harsh comments were made on the air about two ministers and the president but the government is making a mistake when it arrests the host of an outspoken current affairs programme," Reporters Without Borders said. "In a democracy, government ministers are not supposed to take justice into their own hands. It is up to the courts to decide whether someone is guilty of a crime."

The press freedom organisation added: "This latest incident is indicative of the growing tension between the press and the government, especially the ministry of information and culture."

Fayyaz was arrested on 28 July after going to DNS headquarters in response to a summons. The head of Ariana TV told Agence France-Presse that he got an SMS message from Fayyaz soon after he left for the DNS saying: "I have been arrested." He was allegedly hit at the time of his arrest. There has been no news of him since then.

Fayyaz was very critical of the government on the air the previous day, describing trade minister Mohammad Amin Farhang and energy minister Mohammad Ismail Khan as thieves. Police officers rushed to the TV station and stopped his programme half way through.

Fayyaz has been threatened in the past by parliamentarians, including former warlord Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.

His arrest followed a government meeting earlier yesterday in which both Fayyaz and the financing of privately-owned TV stations were discussed. Reporters Without Borders has obtained a copy of the minutes of the meeting. They say: "Certain broadcast and print media accuse and insult national figures such as ministers, for example in yesterday's Haqeeqat programme by Mohammed Naseer Fayyaz."

The minutes continue: "The cabinet envisages that individuals like him and all those in the media who make baseless allegations will be prosecuted at the request of the minister of information and culture (...) The minister of information and culture provided a report on the financial situation of the privately-owned TV stations. It turns out that there are irregularities in their accounts."

Reporters Without Borders urges the government to act with the utmost transparency and honesty in its new policy of controlling the activities of the privately-owned TV stations.

AFGHANISTAN: TV reporter detained, program yanked off the air

New York, July 29, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports that Afghan television reporter Mohammad Naseer Fayyaz was detained one day after his television station aired a documentary that was critical of some cabinet members and their ministries. The program was cut short while being broadcast, apparently at the demand of the government, according to media reports.

Afghan and foreign media reports say Fayyaz was detained by intelligence officials on Monday and released later that day. The BBC reported today that Fayyaz was detained again today after giving an interview to the BBC. CPJ is trying to confirm the BBC’s report.

“Reports of the detention of Mohammad Naseer Fayyaz and the shutdown of his documentary on corruption are disturbing,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “These kinds of heavy-handed tactics show that Afghanistan still has far to go in accepting the role of a critical press in an open society.”

Fayyaz’s program, “Haqiqat” (The Truth) airs on privately owned Ariana TV. Sunday’s program specifically targeted Commerce Minister Mohammad Amin Farhang and Water and Energy Minister Mohammad Ismail Khan. Agence France-Presse quoted a government summary of Monday’s cabinet meeting in which the show was discussed—some ministers said they felt it was “insulting” and targeted officials “through baseless accusations and insults.”

Characters Count: 4719

URL for news «RSF and CPJ call for the release of Naseer Fayyaz»