Afghan student and journalist Parwez Kambakhsh’s sentence of 20 years in prison for blasphemy after he circulated an article about women’s rights under Islam was recently upheld by Afghanistan’s Supreme Court. According to the Human Rights Watch, the court made the decision to uphold the sentence on February 11, 2009, but did not allow Kambakhsh’s lawyer to defend his client and did not notify Kambakhsh or his lawyer of the decision.
Kambakhsh, 24, worked as a part-time newspaper journalist in Mazar-i-Sharif, had downloaded the article from the Internet, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Kambakhsh has said that he was tortured into giving a confession. He was originally sentenced to death for his “crime,” but an Afghan appeals court reduced the penalty to jail time. Freedom-of-the-press advocates and human rights groups who have championed Kambakhsh’s case remain appalled by the decision and will advocate for a pardon to be issued by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.