Afghan police officers stormed the headquarters of the country's largest private TV chain and allegedly beat several workers in apparent retaliation for a news reportinvolvingAfghanistan's attorney general,media reports saidWednesday.
Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabet, who returned to his home country from Montreal after the fall of the Taliban, has publicly acknowledged he ordered the Tuesday night raid on the offices of Tolo TV.
Agence France-Presse reported that several police officers were dispatched Tuesday night to Tolo's Kabul headquarters,where they seized three men, including the station's editor-in-chief, and held them for an hour,allegedly beating them.
Tolo TV later reported that the raid was captured by hidden cameras.
Sabet said he was unhappy about a"distorted" report on his comments regarding the country's judicial system.
"I said the judicial system is not good, but Tolo reported that I said the country's system is not good," he told a news conference in Kabul.
"They broadcast my comments in a way that left the impression I was speaking against the government, when I was speaking of the judicial system."
Tolo TV's directors condemned the raid and insisted, via press release, that they did not distort Sabet's contentions.
Journalists protest raid
On Wednesday, dozens of journalists protested in front of Afghanistan's parliament, denouncing the raid. The Union of Afghan Journalists said the raid shows "the threats weighing on freedom of expression" in the country.
Tolo TV, which belongs to brothers Saad and Ziad Mohseni, has had several run-ins with the law. Earlier in April, the attorney general's office ordered affiliate network Lemar to cease transmitting Al-Jazeera's English-language programs.
The office said the order was justified because of the chain's licensing problems.
The Mohseni brothers insisted the decision reflected a hardening of Afghanistan's media policies within parliament and the government.
Media laws due for revision
Afghanistan's parliament, dominated by former warlords, is scheduled to revise the country's media laws next week. The current laws were introduced two years ago by President Hamid Karzai.
Media organizations are concerned the laws will be revised to give the state greater capacity for information control and programming deemed anti-Islamic.
Sabet, who has occupied the country's highest legal office for less than a year, is earning a reputation for his self-proclaimed battle against Afghan corruption.
He was named attorney generalafter he worked as a lawyer for theInterior Ministry. He and his family moved to Canada during the Taliban era, and some of his relatives still live in Quebec.