The upper house of the Afghan parliament has supported a death sentence issued against a journalist for blasphemy in northern Afghanistan.
Pervez Kambaksh, 23, was convicted last week of downloading and distributing an article insulting Islam. He has denied the charge.
The UN has criticised the sentence and said the journalist did not have legal representation during the case.
The Afghan government has said that the sentence was not final.
A government spokesman said recently that the case would be handled "very carefully".
Now the Afghan Senate has issued a statement on the case - it was not voted on but was signed by its leader, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, an ally of President Hamid Karzai.
It said the upper house approved the death sentence conferred on Mr Kambaksh by a city court in Mazar-e-Sharif.
It also strongly criticised what it called those institutions and foreign sources which, it said, had tried to pressurise the country's government and judiciary as they pursued people like Mr Kambaksh.
How many more Canadians are going to give their lives for this regime?Here's some more on this with a new angle. The guy they're gonna hang is not really the guy they want. Politics is at play and journalists' lives are the sacrificial pawns.
Afghan Journalist’s Death Sentence “Political”
Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh’s real offence may have been to have a brother whose frank reporting has exposd abuses in northern Afghanistan.
By Hafizullah Gardesh in Kabul (ARR No. 281, 28-Jan-08)The roar of international protest has increased over the past week since a court in northern Afghanistan handed down the death sentence to Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh, a young journalism student convicted of blasphemy.
In Afghanistan, meanwhile, analysts and media rights advocates say the harsh sentence was delivered at the behest of powerful local figures, as an indirect form of retribution against Kaambakhsh’s brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, a reporter who has written extensively on human rights abuses in the north.Sentence was passed at a summary hearing held by the lower court for Balkh region on January 22, at which Kaambakhsh was offered no chance to speak, and had no legal representation. (More...)