Radio station director Hojatullah Mujadadi is currently the only journalist detained in Afghanistan. Although President Hamid Karzai ordered his release, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), an Afghan intelligence agency, is still holding him in appalling conditions, without allowing him the right to be defended by a lawyer. His arrests violates Afghan law, under which all cases involving journalists should be handled by the Media Commission.
Reporters Without Borders has an audio recording that clearly show that the NDS wanted to silence Mujadadi. Irritated by his independent reporting in the northeastern province of Kapisa, where he has been Radio Kapisa FM’s director for the past several months, the security forces found a way to arrest and charge him last month. The recording also sheds light on the disturbing methods used by the NDS to recruit journalists as informers.
In the audio recording made by Reporters Without Borders last May, Mujadadi said he had been summoned several times for questioning by NDS officials, who asked him to fill out a cooperation agreement form. According to Mujadadi, this would have meant agreeing to be a government spy. He was also asked to provide information about his contacts and to make detailed reports.
“Yes, this form was called the ‘Cooperation Form’ and if I had filled it out, I would have become an NDS member in addition to being a journalist,” Mujadadi says in this recording. “I was supposed to spy for them.”
Mujadadi’s revelations conclusively demonstrate that the NDS tries to turn independent journalists into informers. We urge the relevant authorities, including the interior minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, to put a stop to such practices.
It is disturbing that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) accepts the use of such methods by the NDS, its partner in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. The ISAF public information services never issued a correction to a statement in which they wrongly reported that Mujadadi was released in last September.
Mujadadi was arrested on 18 September at a voting station in Kapisa province that was being visited by the provincial governor. In recent months, he had reported being threatened by both the governor and NDS officials because of his independent coverage of events in the province including the case of the France 3 TV crew that was abducted there last December.