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With journalist's arrest, has Afghan election season begun?

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The NDS admits to arresting, releasing, and rearresting Yasa this weekend because of what it regards as suspicious activity, including frequent visits to the Pakistani embassy.

“Dr. Hussain Yasa has been arrested and held for questioning by the NDS for his repeatedly going to and visiting the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, and especially the intelligence officer of the Pakistan Embassy,” says Lutfullah Mashal, spokesman for the NDS.

Yasa, however, maintains that he was simply participating in legitimate politics, attending a meeting of the National Front of Afghanistan at a recent meeting in Kabul. 

Yasa was held for 27 hours, and then released on bail because of his need for diabetic treatment. On Tuesday, however, he was rearrested, Mr. Mashal said, and the NDS intends to hand him over to the Attorney General’s office for prosecution on likely charges of espionage.

'A proud Afghan'

While President Hamid Karzai is restricted by the Afghan Constitution from seeking a third term in office in 2014, critics of his administration worry that his control over security agencies such as the NDS will give him power to restrict the activities of his rivals, including some of the warlords and political leaders that form the National Front of Afghanistan.

One of those National Front leaders, Mohammad Mohaqiq, alleges in a statement this weekend, that Yasa was targeted not because of his visits to the Pakistani embassy, nor because of his possession of dual citizenship, but rather because he is a member of the Hazara ethnic group, and thus hostile to Karzai’s ethnic Pashtuns.

“A proud Afghan and an honest Hazara community member, Yasa has been known to me for the past 20 years,” said Mr. Mohaqiq, in a statement. “I know many ministers and advisors who have the citizenship of Pakistan, the US, Canada and other countries. This dual nationality is a pride for them. Why is it a sin in Yasa case?”

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