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The Afghan journalist who filmed and photographed the July 12 execution of two women by the Taliban says he was detained and held for two days by authorities in Afghanistan for suspected ties to terrorists.
The footage and photographs of the executions were distributed by the Associated Press and widely circulated on the Internet, giving rise to suspicions that the photographer, Rahmatullah Naikzad, was connected with the Taliban.
In an exclusive telephone interview, Naikzad told FOXNews.com that he turned himself in to Afghan authorities early this week and was held in custody and investigated for 48 hours. He said officials "asked me why I went to the Taliban at night — how come they didn't harm me."
Naikzad said he has no ties with the Taliban, and he gave the following account of why and how he became witness to the executions.
He said the Taliban issued a press statement calling all media outlets in the province of Ghazni, which has a large Taliban presence, to cover them “carrying out the Shariah” on a few burglars in their custody. Naikzad said he believed the Taliban would be cutting off the limbs of their prisoners, according to strict Islamic law.
He said he and other journalists were reluctant to go because of security concerns, but that an unknown person who identified himself as a member of the Taliban contacted him directly on his cell phone and assured him of his safety.
“We talked for about five minutes on the phone, and he said my safety was absolutely guaranteed,” Naikzad explained.
He said he checked with the Kabul office of the Associated Press, for which he works as a stringer, and then set off around sunset on his motorbike to a village on the outskirts of Ghazni City, only to find that no other journalist was there.
That, he said, was when he learned it was two women — and not burglars — whom the Taliban had arrested, and that they had been charged with running a prostitution ring for coalition soldiers and local men.
Naikzad interviewed and filmed the Taliban, who said on tape that the two women “took the pure girls and women” and “indulged them in immoral acts.”
After the interview, he said, the Taliban picked up the two burqa-clad women from a house, put them in a white Toyota Corolla and drove off to a different location.
Naikzad said he followed the Corolla on his bike, with a Taliban car following him.
About a half-hour later, he said, they stopped near Arzo village, close to the Ghazni-Paktika highway, on the outskirts of the province.
The women — one of whom appeared to be carrying a shopping bag — were then taken out of the car and told they would be executed.
Naikzad said he tried to persuade the Taliban not to carry out the executions.
“I told one of the Taliban, ‘These are women, they are harmless. Why would you want to kill them?’ But they didn’t listen to me.”
When his pleas went unheeded, he said, he asked the Taliban if he could film the execution.
“I wanted to show how the women were killed and have a proof of their death,” he said.
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