Taliban releases Iranian photojournalist

The Taliban released Iranian photojournalist Mohammad Hossein Velayati on Friday night, the Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi said on Saturday.

According to Mehr News, the Taliban handed Velayati over to the Iranian embassy in Kabul on Friday night.

Velayati works for Iran’s Tasnim news agency and was arrested at Kabul airport last Saturday shortly before boarding a flight home. He had been in the country for 10 days.

The journalist’s release appears to have come close on the heels of Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s post on X, formerly Twitter, where he said hopes diplomatic efforts lead to Velayati’s release.

Amir-Abdollahian said: “Intensive diplomatic and consular efforts are underway to return home Mr. Mohammad Hossein Velayati, the photographer of Tasnim news agency. I hope he will be handed over to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Kabul.”

The Taliban has arrested 12 journalists across the country in the last few weeks, of whom eight are still in Taliban custody.

Afghanistan Journalists Center said that four journalists – including Afghan-French journalist Mortaza Behboudi – who were detained in the past several months are also in Taliban custody.

According to a media watchdog, as many as 11 are still in Taliban custody, of whom many are detained for working for media outlets operating outside Afghanistan.