Press Statement

Afghanistan: Three journalists detained by Taliban intelligence agency

26 Jan, 2024

Continuing its crackdown on independent media in 2024, three journalists were detained by the Taliban’s intelligence agency over two days in Kabul. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists Union (AIJU), condemn the continued summoning and detentions of Afghan media workers and call for all cases to be swiftly investigated.

According to reports, Ehsanullah Akbari, the assistant bureau chief of Japanese media outlet Kyodo News Agency, was detained by officials from the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) in Kabul on January 17, after being summoned by the Taliban’s Government Media Information Center (GMIC). The same day, GDI members raided the Kyodo office in Kabul while Akbari was forced to direct his family to surrender their mobile phones via telephone call in custody.

After nine days in custody, Akbari was released on January 25, reportedly facilitated through a procedure by the Media Complaints and Rights Violations Commission, following Afghanistan’s Commitment to Preserve Taliban Media Policy. The Afghan Journalists Centre (AFJC) condemned Akbari’s detention, stating “this arrest directly violated the Media Law, which explicitly states that complaints against journalists and media should be addressed by the Media Complaints and Rights Violations Commission.”

In a separate incident on January 18, a further two media workers, Abdulhaq Hamidi, director of the Garhdesh Ettelaat News Agency, and the outlet’s owner Ahmad Javad Rasouli, were summoned to the GDI in Kabul by an anonymous phone call. Upon their arrival, the pair were immediately detained and interrogated.

Khaama Press News Agency reported that close associates of Hamidi said intelligence personnel had visited Hamidi’s house, seized his mobile phone, “and informed his wife that they had taken him into custody for their investigative purposes”. Both Hamidi and Rasouli were released after two nights in detention on the evening of January 20, allegedly after their families gave guarantees that the journalists would not violate ‘Taliban rules’.

The AIJU said: “AIJU considers the continuation of such measures to be worrying for the continuation of media work and has always emphasised that the meetings of the Media Violation Commission, which is responsible for dealing with the cases of journalists, should be sped up so that these issues can be examined by this commission.”

The IFJ said:“IFJ condemns the Taliban’s continued unlawful attempts to intimidate and silence Afghanistan’s media, further shrinking the space for freedom of expression and press freedom. Arbitrary arrests in direct retaliation for journalists’ work are alarming and IFJ calls on Afghanistan’s Media Complaints and Rights Violations Commission to investigate these incidents immediately.”

Written By

IFJ Asia-Pacific IFJ Asia-Pacific

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