U.S. military releases Afghan freelance reporter


Freelance Afghan journalist Javed Yazamy was released Sunday after spending 10 months in a U.S. military prison.



KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A respected Afghan freelance journalist employed by several Canadian news organizations has been set free after 10 months in an American military prison.

Javed Yazamy, known by his nickname Jojo, was unexpectedly set free on Sunday.

No reason was ever given for Yazamy's arrest.

But the 22-year-old journalist, who was eventually dubbed an enemy combatant by U.S. authorities, had developed contacts with the Taliban during his work as a reporter and fixer.

He worked primarily as a cameraman for CTV but was popular among other Canadian reporters based at Kandahar Air Field and worked for other organizations, including The Canadian Press.

Western reporters in Afghanistan rely on trusted locals such as Yazamy for transportation and interpreting. Often, they conduct interviews or shoot video in places where it would be too risky for their employers to go.

Their advice on personal safety can be crucial.

In February, Yazamy -- by then a prisoner at the U.S. military base in Bagram -- was designated an unlawful enemy combatant by American authorities.

U.S. authorities said they had determined there was credible information to detain him because he was dangerous to foreign troops and the Afghan government.

The substance of that information was never revealed.

Capt. Christian Patterson, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said Monday, that Ahmad was released because was no longer considered a threat.

Yazamy said all he ever did was try to be an honest reporter.

"Why are they pursuing me?" he asked from Kabul. "There was no reason. I just set forth the truth, just like any journalist did."

An unreliable cellphone connection to Kandahar prevented him from describing his jail experience Monday.

"That is hell, sir. That is hell," was his summation.

Media organizations, including CTV and the New York Times, vouched for Yazamy in an effort to secure his release. The Committee to Protect Journalists also demanded that U.S. authorities disclose evidence and specify charges against him.

Yazamy credited those efforts with contributing to his release.

Speaking from a room in the best hotel in Kabul -- paid for by CTV -- Yazamy promised to return to Kandahar to resume his former profession.

"I'm the same old Jojo -- with more confidence and more contacts," he said.

Good, they finally let him go.... arsholes.

Once again, another example of the US hauling off whoever they suspect is a threat, holding them for as long as they please, doing God knows what to him, and then setting him free with no charges, no explination, no apologies.

Fk'n Tyrants.

Jawed Ahmad, who worked primarily for CTV, describes his treatment while being detained after being released in Kandahar City on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008.

Freed Afghan journalist reunited with family


An Afghan journalist held in a U.S. military prison for nearly one year was reunited with his family in Kandahar City Wednesday.

U.S. officials released Jawed Yazamy, in his early 20s, Sunday after holding him for 11 months at a base in Bagram, near Kabul.

Yazamy, who was working for CTV prior to his arrest, had passes to enter Kandahar Air Field and had drawn the suspicions of both the Americans and Canadians, CTV's Paul Workman said Wednesday.

"They... felt that he was really much too close to the Taliban and had greater suspicions that he was not just working as a journalist and they decided that he was a security risk and did not want him on the base," Workman told CTV Newsnet from Kandahar.

"I know for a fact that the Canadians were involved in that and felt exactly that."

On Oct. 26, 2007, Yazamy was arrested at the base in Kandahar and held for nine days before being transferred to Bagram.

Yazamy, known by friends as Jojo, claims he was mistreated while being held in Kandahar.

He says U.S. Special Forces beat him and kept awake for days at a time.

"Whenever I try to sleep they would shout 'Get up, get up' and then 'Jojo is a spy. Jojo is al Qaeda. Jojo is Taliban. Jojo is finished,'" Yazamy told Workman.

Yazamy, who was designated as an "enemy combatant," said he was also told that his family had been arrested and that he was being sent to Guantanamo Bay.

"The way they treat me, I really believe they arrested my family, and yes I believe that I was being sent to Cuba and my life was finished," he said.

In Bagram, Yazamy said soldiers forced him to stand on the snowy runway with no shoes for six hours. He said he passed out twice but was forced to stand back up.

Aside from that incident, Yazamy said he was not abused while in Bagram. However, he said he was beaten by fellow prisoners and, during one incident, had some of the ribs on the left side of his body broken.

The Americans accused him of supplying weapons and information to the militants.

But Yazamy said it was part of his job as a journalist to have frequent contact with the Taliban.

"I told them as a journalist I have a right to talk to the Taliban, talk to al Qaeda," he said.

After his arrest, various groups launched a campaign to pressure the U.S. to release him, Workman said.

"They reviewed the case and then simply said he was no longer a risk," Workman said.

Fk'n sick, corrupt bastards...... those in the Canadian forces who pressed for this kind of treatment of this guy should be brought to justice and hang their asses.

There is no god damn need for this sort of terrorism by our own forces, and they sure as hell shouldn't be helping the US in carrying out this form of treatment.

If they thought he was a risk, they should have reassigned him to some other country and some other story...... there were all kinds of other avenues that could have been taken beside acting as if he was guilty before due process and trating him like an animal.

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