Student journalist sentenced to death

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A journalism student from the northern province of Balkh in Afghanistan has been sentenced to death following a court ruling that he had spread anti-Islamic messages..

Sayad Parwez Kambaksh, 23, was accused of blasphemy for distributing material he printed from the internet which allegedly humiliated Islam and insulted Mohammad.

Kambaksh had no legal representation at the trial, but case will now go to a regional appeals court, followed by an appeal to the Supreme Court if that fails. He will remain in custody during the appeal process.

The student attends Balkh University and works as a journalist at the Jahan-i-Naw (New World) newspaper in Mazari Sharif.

Several classmates allegedly reported Kambaksh to the authorities in October after he took the downloaded paper to school to discuss it with lecturers and students.

The verdict has been slammed by Kambaksh's family and the National Journalists Union of Afghanistan.

"We completely condemn this trial. It goes against freedom of speech and freedom of the press," said Rhimullah Samandar, head of the National Journalists Union of Afghanistan.

"This is too big for a small mistake. He just printed a copy and looked at this and read it. How can we believe in this democracy if we cannot even read and we cannot even study?"

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