An Afghan journalist sentenced to death for blasphemy says he was denied access to a lawyer and barred from speaking in his own defense.
In an interview with a British newspaper The Independent published Monday, Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh says he was convicted and given the death penalty in a four-minute court hearing last month.
Authorities in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif arrested the 23-year old last October after he distributed an article from the Internet about the role of women in Muslim society. Prosecutors charged the student journalist with defaming Islam, an offense punishable by death.
Kambakhsh says he wants to appeal his death penalty in the capital, Kabul, where he believes he will get a fairer hearing. The United States, Britain and media rights groups have urged Afghan authorities to review his case and grant him a reprieve.
Kambakhsh also says has been attacked by Islamist prisoners during his four fourth months in detention. But, he says most prisoners and even some guards have expressed sympathy and support for his plight.