Afghan journalism student sentenced to 20 years for blasphemy
An Afghan appeals court has overturned a death sentence for a journalism student convicted of blasphemy and instead sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
A three-judge panel sentenced Parwez Kambakhsh, 24, to prison Tuesday after a day of arguments between the student's defence lawyer and state witnesses.
Kambakhsh was studying journalism at Balkh University in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and writing for local newspapers when he was arrested in October 2007 for allegedly distributing material downloaded from the internet that asked questions about the role of women in Islam.
The material, written in Farsi, the language of Iran, asked why a Muslim man may have four wives but women can't have multiple husbands.
The material also said Muslim fundamentalists err in their interpretation of the Qur'an by insisting women have to be subject to men.
A lower court sentenced him to death in a trial that human rights groups have condemned as illegal. Kambakhsh has said he was forbidden to speak in his own defence.
Kaambakhsh is the younger brother of another journalist, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, who has written investigative reports exposing human rights abuses.
The Institute of War and Peace Reporting has said the case against Kaambakhsh may have been designed by warlords in northern Afghanistan to silence his brother.
Groups around the world supporting freedom of expression condemned the death sentence, while the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders had asked Afghan President Hamid Karzai to intervene.