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Al-Jazeera protests NATO detention of 2 cameramen in Afghanistan

By Ernesto Londono
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 3:40 PM

The al-Jazeera satellite television network on Wednesday protested the recent detention by NATO of two of its cameramen in Afghanistan and accused the U.S.-led international force of "attempting to suppress its comprehensive coverage of the Afghan war."

NATO officials said they had had detained the men after troops collected "intelligence information linking them to Taliban propaganda networks."

Rahmatullah Nekzad was taken into custody during a pre-dawn raid Wednesday at his home in the restive southern province of Kandahar. A military news release described him as a "Taliban facilitator," a characterization the Doha-based network said it "strongly opposes."

Two days before, Mohamed Nader, who works for the network as a freelancer, was detained in a similar operation in Ghazni province, south of Kabul.

In a statement, al-Jazeera said its journalists need to cultivate sources on all sides of the conflict, including the Taliban. "These contacts should not be seen as a criminal offense but rather as a necessary component of the work that journalists undertake," it said.

The military said the men would remain in custody until authorities decide whether they should be prosecuted in Afghan courts, remanded for participation in "a reconciliation program" or "released without conditions."

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