The Independent’s campaign to save journalism student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh from execution for downloading blasphemous material from the internet was gaining momentum this week.
The paper dedicated three front pages in a row at the end of last week to the campaign and ran another front page story this Wednesday, reporting that a senior Afghan official believed Kambaksh’s sentence would be ‘avoided”.
So far some 60,000 people have signed a petition launched by the paper to see him freed.
Kambaksh, who has worked for the Jahan-i-Naw (New World) newspaper, was last week sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report that claimed the oppression of women misrepresented the Koran.
The UN, foreign secretary David Milliband, human rights groups and western diplomats are all urging Afghan president Hamid Karzai to intervene and ensure Kambaksh is freed.
Diplomatic editor at The Independent Anne Penketh said: ‘The family talked of their despair because the guy was sentenced by an Islamic court – no lawyer, no right of appeal. He was given the death sentence for downloading a document from the internet and then wanting to distribute it.
‘It seemed to us that the death sentence for such a thing is absolutely outrageous especially in a country where Britain is so deeply involved in the process of democratisation.
‘In three days [the campaign] really did strike a chord, not only with our readers, but all over the world.”