CPJ calls for immediate release of three journalists detained by Taliban

The Committee to Protect Journalists today demanded that Taliban authorities “immediately and unconditionally” release three radio journalists, Ismail Saadat, Wahidullah Masoom, and Ehsanullah Tasal, and cease harassing the press for their work.

According to sources cited by the committee, the Taliban detained the journalists for “broadcasting music and engaging with female listeners via phone.”

The sources also reported that the journalists have been transferred to the police headquarters in Khost province and are expected to face trial soon.

Carlos Martinez de la Serna, program director at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said, “The detention of Afghan journalists Ismail Saadat, Wahidullah Masoom, and Ehsanullah Tsal is the latest example of the Taliban’s ruthless suppression of the press since their return to power in 2021.”

He emphasized, “The Taliban must immediately and unconditionally release all detained journalists and allow the media to operate freely without restrictive measures like prohibiting female callers.”

Earlier this month, the Taliban banned two national television networks for violating “national and Islamic values” and announced plans to restrict access to Facebook in Afghanistan.

Despite initial promises by the Taliban to allow press freedom, the Committee to Protect Journalists said the situation has worsened with multiple instances of censorship, assaults, and arbitrary detentions of journalists, along with restrictions on female reporters.

The committee added that Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has not responded to their inquiries.

The statement comes while the whereabouts of Ismail Saadat, a reporter for Radio Naz; Wahidullah Masoom, a reporter for Radio Iqra; and Ehsanullah Tasal, a reporter for Radio Voice of People, remain unknown since their detention by the Taliban’s morality police last Monday.