Afghan journalist still in Taliban custody for past three months

Afghan journalist Abdul Hannan Mohammadi.

A journalist from the Pajhwok news agency, Abdul Hannan Mohammadi, is still under Taliban custody for the past three months. He has been tortured during this time, according to a source, and his family has not been able to meet him so far.

Mohammadi was arrested in the Hese Awal Kohistan district in Kapisa when reporting on an incident in June. His mother said they have no news about him so far.

“We made many efforts. We went to the Taliban and asked them to release my son. But they did not allow us to see him,” said his mother.

Abdullah, Mohammadi’s brother, said he was arrested for being a journalist and that he must be released.

“He had no links with any group or organization,” Abdullah reiterated.

A source aware of the matter told Amu that Abdul Hannan Mohammadi “has been tortured” by Taliban intelligence and that his wounds have not been healed so far.

“I saw they used pomade for his wounds,” the source said.

Journalists and organizations supporting journalists’ rights have frequently asked for the release of Mohammadi through the commission for media violations, but the Taliban has not responded to this call so far.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Amu on Thursday that Mohammadi has not been arrested for reporting, but he did not provide more details on this.

Recently, Mujahid claimed that no media outlet has been closed by the Taliban in the last year but reports by oversight organizations show otherwise.

Besides Mohammadi, Mirza Husaini, a journalist from Daikundi, is also under Taliban custody for the last few months.

Reporters Without Borders in a report in August said that at least 80 journalists were detained for periods of varying lengths by the Taliban, especially Taliban intelligence members that have been involved in many arbitrary arrests of journalists – some of them violent – since the start of 2022.

Afghanistan ranked 122nd out of 179 countries in RSF’s Press Freedom Index in 2021 but in 2022, after losing nearly 40% of its media and more than half of its journalists, it has fallen to 156th.