Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Afghan journalist for CTV labelled 'unlawful enemy combatant'

CTV = Canadian Television Network, Canada's largest privately owned TV network.

Having shot at and killed other journalists who stood in their way, the US military is now taking this another step: declaring a reporter to be an enemy combatant.

Just how far down this slide to open dictatorship - where anyone who dares to speak out or merely report the news can be detained and potentially tortured - will this be allowed to go by us? The intended chilling effect on reporters is obvious. Whoever reports is supposed to think about whether they want to risk incurring the wrath of the US government/military.

The category that the Bush regime has created, and the Congress and Judiciary have allowed, of "unlawful enemy combatant," is entirely up to the whims of the government. There are no criteria other than their assertion that someone is a national security threat. That is not rule of law. That is rule by men - and not good men.

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | 8:27 AM ET

The Associated Press

The U.S. military has designated a journalist employed by CTV in Afghanistan as an unlawful enemy combatant.

A military spokesman told the Associated Press that a review board has determined Jawed Ahmad, an Afghan national, is a danger to foreign troops and the Afghan government.

Ahmad has been held for the last four months at the U.S. military compound in Bagram, 50 kilometres north of the capital, Kabul. U.S. officials alleged he had Taliban phone numbers and videos in his possession when he was picked up.

Maj. Chris Belcher, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, says Ahmad was given an opportunity to provide a statement to the military's enemy combatant review board.

Belcher did not say when the review took place or whether Ahmad was represented by counsel.

Belcher also refused to provide details about what he called "credible information" against Ahmad. Nor would he say whether the military believed Ahmad had any more contact with the Taliban than other journalists working in Afghanistan.

It is common for journalists in Afghanistan to have contact information on Taliban fighters so that they can seek comments for news stories.

© The Canadian Press, 2008

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