September 24th, 2010
10:40 AM ET

ISAF frees two journalists detained this week

Two newsmen who were detained by security forces earlier this week in Afghanistan have been freed, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said on Friday.

They are Rahmatullah Nekzad, a freelance videographer and reporter for Al-Jazeera and the Associated Press, who was detained Monday in Ghazni, and Mohammed Nader, an Al-Jazeera videographer was detained Wednesday in Kandahar.

They had been picked up after intelligence tied them to "Taliban propaganda networks" and the men told authorities during questioning that they did have "routine contact with the Taliban."

"After reviewing the initial intelligence and information received during questioning, the two men were not considered a significant security threat and were released," said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, ISAF spokesman.

Samer Alawi, Al-Jazeera Arabic's Kabul bureau chief, confirmed Nader's release but not the freeing of the other journalist. He said Nader's spirits were high. While ISAF said the other journalist was released, Alawi said he has not yet spoken to him.

Alawi met with ISAF's public relations officials on Friday about the matter.

"If there had been any evidence against him, he would never have been released. It is obvious that a mistake happened by the Americans and they noticed their mistake and corrected it," Alawi said, referring to Nader. "We had a very positive meeting with ISAF today and we talked about precautious measures that could prevent from the happening of such incidents."

Alawi explained that Nader has contacts across the board. He said Nader would have talked to the Americans if they asked him and regularly touches base with foreigners in Afghanistan. Alawi said Nader pointed out that there was no need for the arrest and for what the journalist called an "unpleasant raid."

Smith made reference to the meeting with Alawi, and said the discussion focused on the reasons for the detentions and Al-Jazeera's responsibility. The ISAF comment said Al-Jazeera pledged to abide by "the highest journalistic standards for their reporting in Afghanistan."

"No news agency working in Afghanistan was targeted as part of these operations, and no guilt or innocence is presumed by our activities," Smith said. "The operations were conducted with our Afghan partners and based on intelligence gathered over an extended period of time, focusing on insurgent propaganda networks and their affiliates."

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Filed under: Afghan security forces • Taliban
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