Afghan prison nightmare may be coming to an end for Pervez

His surroundings are grim and forbidding, a Kabul prison thronged with desperate humanity. But Sayed Pervez Kambaksh believes his long nightmare is almost over.

The 24-year-old student, sentenced to death for downloading internet reports on women's rights, is allowing himself to be hopeful for the first time since he was condemned.

"I really did not believe that I would survive for this long, I thought that they would make sure I would disappear, I would be killed. I was abused and beaten after being arrested," he said yesterday. "But now I think they will overturn this wrong verdict and I can get out of this place and start again."

Mr Kambaksh had hoped he might walk free yesterday after his second appearance before an appeal court in the Afghan capital.

In the event, the hearing was adjourned. The Independent has learnt, however, that the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has privately assured Mr Kambaksh's campaign team that he will be freed. Senior government figures have also indicated that they believe his sentence, by a court in Mazar-e-Sharif, was based on a mistaken interpretation of the country's constitutional law. Mr Kambaksh has already discreetly been issued with a passport which will enable him to start a new life abroad if and when he is freed.

The case of Pervez Kambaksh has become an international cause célèbre, with David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, and Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, raising the young student's fate with the Afghan government.

A petition by readers of The Independent to secure justice for him has attracted more than 100,000 signatures. Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said on a visit to Afghanistan yesterday that he would be raising the matter with Mr Karzai.

Mr Kambaksh said from his cell yesterday that he was aware that the Afghan President may save his life. "This is very, very important for me. It was a court which said I must die without even hearing my side of the story. There are many judges who are very conservative and say I have insulted Islam without really considering the evidence.

"They themselves are also afraid of extremists and this could influence their decision. That worries me. But I am very grateful to the international media, especially The Independent, for taking an interest in my case. I think that makes it difficult for them to just get rid of me."

Mr Kambaksh was convicted after a four-minute hearing during which he was not allowed a lawyer nor, he says, to speak in his own defence. His fate appeared sealed when the Afghan Senate passed a motion, proposed by Sibghatullah Mojadidi, a key ally of President Karzai, confirming the death sentence, although this was later withdrawn after domestic and international pressure.

Mr Kambaksh was arrested and charged in October after downloading a document from an Iranian website about Islam and women's rights. He told the first appeal hearing last week that he had been tortured into confessing to adding three paragraphs to the text. He represented himself at the court because fundamentalist groups were threatening to kill any lawyer who took on his case.

According to Samay Hamed, the co-ordinator of Mr Kambaksh's campaign team, President Karzai first agreed to pardon the student in March this year. "I ... have been told repeatedly by government ministers that [they] want the matter resolved quickly."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable