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Afghan journalist appeals blasphemy conviction
KABUL (Reuters) - An Afghan journalist sentenced to death on blasphemy charge pleaded not guilty in an appeal hearing on Sunday.
Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, a reporter with the Jahan-e Now daily was sentenced in January after having been arrested three months ago in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
In an open court appeal hearing in Kabul, Kambakhsh who is also a university student in Mazar-i-Sharif, rejected accusations from some of his classmates and teachers, that he had insulted Islam and the Koran and had distributed an article which said Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women.
"As a Muslim ..., I never allow myself to do such a thing. These are totally lies," he told the court, adding his trial in Mazar-i-Sharif had been "quick and unjust".
The Kabul court gave him a week to present his defence statement against the primary provincial court's ruling and to find a defence lawyer.
His arrest and sentencing drew criticism from a number of Western nations, the Afghan media and rights groups.
Under Islamic law -- stipulated in Afghanistan's constitution -- blasphemy is punishable to death.
Several years ago, two other Afghan journalists, accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death, managed to flee from prison and have been given asylum in the West.
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