International PEN welcomes the release of journalist Ahmed Ghous Zalmai, publisher Mohammad Ateef Noori and Mullah Qari Mushtaq, on March 20, 2010. Zalmai and Mullah Mushtaq were serving 20-year prison sentences and Noori a five-year prison sentence for publishing a translation of the Koran.

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According to PEN’s information, in September 2008 the three individuals were convicted under Article 130 of the Afghan constitution for “publishing the Koran in a Dari translation.” Dari is a Farsi dialect spoken in Afghanistan. It is said that the case stemmed from the failure to print the Arabic original of the Koran alongside the translation, as reportedly required by Islamic law in Afghanistan, and for alleged errors and misunderstandings in the translation. Their release is believed to have been the result of diplomatic pressure.

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