RSF calls on the UN to help release Behboudi

RSF calls on the UN to help free French-Afghan journalist from Taliban captivity

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has said that it referred the case of Mortaza Behboudi, a French-Afghan journalist currently detained by the Taliban, to the UN in order to seek his immediate release.

In a statement on Friday, RSF said that it had sent a complaint to Irene Khan, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to Richard Bennett, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, asking them to “to do everything possible to get the Taliban authorities to free Mortaza Behboudi without delay.”

RSF’s advocacy and assistance director, Antoine Bernard said: “The journalist Mortaza Behboudi has been detained for the past 50 days and that’s 50 days too many. We ask the United Nations to support our request to the Taliban authorities for Mortaza Behboudi’s release. He is a journalist who is respected by all of his media colleagues. He must be freed at once.”

Mortaza Behboudi was arrested by the Taliban in Kabul on 7 January 2022, two days after arriving in the Afghan capital on a reporting assignment. 

According RSF, Behboudi has been accused of spying and is being held in a Kabul prison.

In a video released by RSF on on 7 February, Mortaza Behboudi’s wife, Alexandra Mostovaja, appealed to the Taliban for her husband’s release. Her husband, she said, had been working “to shed light on all the difficulties that women face, and especially the Hazara people.” 

The Taliban has not responded to calls from several media and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Journalists, to free Mortaza Behboudi. 

Behboudi’s detention, RSF said, was “one more example of an alarming escalation in the Taliban government’s persecution of journalists.