Afghanistan: Five journalists freed after weeks in Taliban custody

Five journalists have been released by the Taliban after spending three weeks in their custody, the Afghanistan Journalists Center said in a statement on Thursday.

Faqirzai and Saleh, affiliated with Radio Kilid in Nangarhar, had been apprehended by the Taliban’s intelligence department in Jalalabad city, resulting in their confinement for a span of three weeks.

Haseeb Hassas, a reporter from Radio Salam Watandar in Kunduz, Attaullah Omar, a journalist in Kandahar and Mahboubullah Mahboub, a journalist from Zabul, were arrested on August 10, 11, and 12, respectively. Taliban also released two other journalists, Faqir Mohammad Faqirzai and Jan Agha Saleh, earlier in the day, according to the Afghanistan Journalists Center.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center has not only reported on their release but also called for the immediate and unconditional liberation of other journalists who remain in Taliban custody.

In a development that underlines the complexity surrounding their release, these two journalists were freed by the Taliban in the capital city of Kabul, according to the center. However, the Taliban has yet to issue an official statement regarding the release or elaborate on the conditions that led to this decision.

The statement issued by the Afghanistan Journalists Center revealed that the initial arrest of Faqirzai and Saleh in Jalalabad led to their subsequent transfer to Kabul by the Taliban’s intelligence service. Sources cited by the center suggest that the two journalists were detained and questioned on suspicions of collaborating with “banned media.”

The Taliban has previously taken measures to prohibit engagement with specific media outlets that broadcast content for Afghanistan from foreign territories.

Highlighting the contrast between the arrests and the country’s public media law, the Afghanistan Journalists Center pointed out that these detentions contradicted the principles of media freedom that Afghanistan should uphold. The center further emphasized that journalists’ work should not be curtailed or threatened by those in authority; rather, they should be supported in their professional endeavors.

Currently, the journalists’ association asserts that at least five journalists and media personnel remain in Taliban custody, underscoring a concerning trend of increased arrests and threats. This environment has subsequently exacerbated fear and self-censorship in Afghanistan, as observed by the Afghanistan Journalists Center.