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 Nasir 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 Nasir 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.”