Journalist arrested in Helmand over carrying drugs, claims official

A journalist from Helmand was arrested by the Taliban in Helmand province on charges of carrying hashish with him into a prison where his friend was imprisoned, a local official said.

Zwan Takal works for Hilai TV, a media organization that operates from outside Afghanistan.

“The journalist wanted to take drugs to one of his neighbors who is imprisoned in Helmand prison, but he was exposed during a search by Taliban forces,” the head of the information and culture department of Helmand, Rashid Helmandi, claimed.

But two sources from the province said that the journalist has been arrested as a plot against those reporters and media workers who are critics of the current government.

“Zwan Takal had planned to work on a detailed report about people’s issues,” one source said. “The Taliban want to keep journalists under pressure to report on ‘good topics’ only.”

This comes after the arrest of Abdul Hanan Ahmadi, a reporter from Pajhwok Afghan News, was arrested by the Taliban in Kapisa province on June 12. He is still under the group’s custody.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) in a report this month said that at least 12 journalists were detained by the Taliban in May. The organization asked the Taliban to protect journalists in Afghanistan.

Figures by RSF show that at least 62 journalists and media workers have been arrested by the Taliban since the Kabul takeover on August 15, 2021.