KABUL, Afghanistan – A journalist for a Canadian TV network who has been held for four months without being charged has been designated an unlawful enemy combatant, the U.S. military said Wednesday.
CTV journalist Jawed Ahmad, an Afghan, was allowed to make a statement before an enemy combatant review board, which determined there was credible information to detain him because he was dangerous to foreign troops and the Afghan government, said Maj. Chris Belcher, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition.
Ahmad is being held at the military compound in Bagram, 30 miles north of Kabul.
"As an unlawful enemy combatant, he posed a threat to coalition forces and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Mr. Ahmad was in no way targeted because of his work as a journalist," Belcher told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
He declined to provide details about the "credible information" and would not say if Ahmad had more contact with militants than other journalists working in Afghanistan. It is common for journalists in the country to have contact information of Taliban fighters so they can seek militants' comments for news stories.
Ahmad, 22, who is also known as Jojo Yazemi, was detained Oct. 26 at a NATO air base in the southern city of Kandahar, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based group. He was later transferred to a detention center at the U.S. military base in Bagram, north of Kabul.
"CTV news continues to be deeply concerned about Jojo Yazemi's well-being and we are continuing to work all diplomatic channels available to find out additional information and get Jojo his due process," Robert Hurst, president of CTV News, said in a statement.
Ahmad's brother, Siddique, has said the military accused the journalist of having contact with local Taliban fighters.
CPJ, which said Tuesday that it received a letter from the Pentagon on Feb. 22 about Ahmad being held as an enemy combatant, demanded that U.S. authorities disclose evidence and specify charges against him.
"Although the Pentagon has made a very serious assertion, it has yet to disclose any supporting evidence. And despite holding Jawed Ahmad for four months, authorities have yet to charge him with a crime," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "We urge military officials to either charge Jawed Ahmad with a recognizable criminal offense or, if they have no intention of doing so, to release him immediately."
Ahmad's case is the latest instance of the U.S. military arresting without charge a journalist in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.
In most cases, the journalists have been freed. However, Iraqi journalist Bilal Hussein, an Associated Press photographer, has been held by the U.S. military without charge for 22 months.
The AP is defending Hussein, seeks his release and has said that there is no evidence to support claims he was involved in insurgent activities or was anything other than a news photographer working in a war zone.