Afghanistan: Taliban officials release nine journalists
NUJ welcomes action but calls for the release of all journalists wrongly imprisoned in the country.
The National Union of Journalists joins the International Federation of Journalists in welcoming the release of nine journalists held in Taliban custody.
The action follows an ongoing crackdown on media freedom and journalism has seen an increase in journalists detained by Taliban officials, with the once thriving media sector now facing growing restrictions including strict rules for women journalists.
On 1 September, journalists Habibullah Sarab and Parviz Sargand were released a day after Mehboob Hakimi, a representative of Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) was freed. It is believed two of the journalists had been detained due to allegations they worked for exiled media outlets.
Four journalists Attaullah Omar, Faqir Mohammad Faqirzai, Jan Agha Saleh and Hasib Hassas have also been released following their arrests a week earlier. On 14 August, Waheedur Rahman Afghanmal was detained and questioned about his work, before being released on bail the following day. Freelance journalist Shamsullah Omari was also detained in a separate incident and released on 24 August.
Despite some action by officials, French journalist Mortaza Behboudi remains imprisoned in Afghanistan, and the IFJ has received reports his espionage trial has progressed to court.
The IFJ said:
“This latest crackdown on Afghan media under the Taliban regime has seen the country’s journalists and media workers continue to face increasing incidents of arbitrary arrest, harassment, and attack, despite assurances to the contrary. While the release of nine journalists is a welcome development, the IFJ urges the Taliban to immediately free all media workers still in custody and work to protect the safety and security of all journalists in Afghanistan.”