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September 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Two Afghan journalists working for the Arab satellite news network al-Jazeera were released by coalition forces on Friday after being arrested in their homes the previous Monday on charges of aiding “insurgent propaganda networks and their affiliates.” The arrests of Mohammad Nadir and Rahmatullah Naikzad, who worked for both al-Jazeera and the Associated Press, had sparked an international uproar among journalism groups. On Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai also called for their release. NATO spokesman Rear Admiral Gregory Smith said in a statement, “After reviewing the initial intelligence and information received during questioning, the two men were not considered a significant security threat and were released.” Earlier, Samir Allawi, head of the al-Jazeera bureau in Kabul, said that he had been told by a spokesperson for the International Security Assistance Force that it had intercepted telephone calls between the Taliban and its reporter. Alawi said that Naikzad also had “strong relations” with the “foreign troops.” “We treat all these sides equally and we have no problem citing any of them [in our reports]. … Nothing justifies the arrests, which are no more than an attempt to muzzle the media.” In an interview with the A.P. on Saturday, Nadir said that coalition forces had stormed his house at 4 a.m. and drove him, handcuffed and blindfolded, to Kandahar Air Field where he was questioned five different times. “I was shocked that they were asking me illogical questions like ‘Why are you constantly contacting the Taliban spokesman?’ I said ‘It is my duty to have a link with them because I’m a journalist. Every journalist has contacts with the Taliban — not in the form of helping them, but to get the news from them.'” Bob Dietz of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists told A.P. that the men were “legitimate journalists. They never should have been detained in the first place.”