AFGHANISTAN: FREEDOM FOR PERVEZ AFTER KARZAI'S INTERVENTION
September 7, 2009: Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the student sentenced to death in Afghanistan for trying to promote women's rights, has been freed from prison. The Independent has learned that he is now living outside the country after being secretly pardoned by President Karzai.
Mr Kambaksh, 24, was moved from his cell in Kabul's main prison a fortnight ago and kept at a secure location for a few days before being flown out of the country.
Hardline Islamists, including a number of political figures close to the government of President Karzai, have repeatedly called for Mr Kambaksh's execution and were fiercely critical when an appeal court reduced the original death sentence to 20 years' imprisonment.
Mr Kambaksh was originally arrested in October 2007 after some students and staff at his university in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north of the country accused him of disseminating material on women's rights which "insulted Islam". He was charged with blasphemy and sentenced to death at a trial three months later.
In October last year Afghanistan's supreme court set aside the death sentence but ruled he must serve at least 20 years in prison. Diplomatic pressure continued behind closed doors and finally came to fruition with the signing of an "amnesty" by President Karzai. (Sources: The Independent, 07/09/2009)