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Families, staff of Afghan airline pose as journalists, reach Abu Dhabi

The journalists’ advocate groups in Afghanistan say that Kam Air has committed a crime by stealing the identity of journalists and asked the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to bring to justice the culprits, Khaama Press reported

IANS | New Delhi |

Tech giants from Silicon Valley including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Facebook Inc. had agreed to fund an evacuation flight for 188 journalists, aid  workers, and others whose safety were imperiled as Kabul fell to Taliban in an astonishing speed.

Instead, a private Afghan airline airlifted at least 155 family members of the company’s leadership to Abu Dhabi, according to a media report on Monday.

A half-empty plane was loaded with their employees, their families and more-a total of 155 additional passengers, according to US officials and other organisers of the flight, Bloomberg reports.

When the flight landed in Abu Dhabi, US State Department and UAE authorities were agitated as the extra passengers weren’t on the plane’s manifest, hadn’t been screened which raised security and immigration troubles.

Other organisers and financial supporters were miffed as they claimed they weren’t aware of the extra passengers under the flight landed and that they had followed all procedures before boarding.

Officials at Kam Air have however, denied the claims, saying the company was not picking evacuees and was only responsible for transferring them.

“We had only two flights, to Abu Dhabi and Tabas (Iran). They went according to the list. Because many people remain in Afghanistan, they make these claims that Kam Air took some families and relatives,” TOLO News quoted Kam Air CEO Mohammad Dawood Sharifi as saying.

The passengers who were allegedly not on the list are reportedly still in Abu Dhabi and their fate is uncertain.

Meanwhile, sources at the airline said that several people related to the chairman of the company were on the flight, TOLO News said.

“Every person from any address that committed this action should be accountable,” said Ahmad Shuaib Fana, CEO of the Afghanistan National Journalist Association.

Kam Air international flights are usually only to Pakistan from Mazar-e-Sharif.

The journalists’ advocate groups in Afghanistan say that Kam Air has committed a crime by stealing the identity of journalists which is a crime and asked the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to bring to justice the culprits, Khaama Press reported.

Another group has asked both the Taliban and international journalists’ advocates to investigate the case impartially and punish those who committed the crime.

This is not the first time that people leave Afghanistan pretending to be Afghan journalists, hundreds of people have been flown out by different advocacies and associations in Afghanistan, Khaama Press said.

A group of Afghan journalists have planned to gather in Kabul on Monday and hold a press conference over the development.