Sports journalist released after four months of Taliban captivity

The Taliban has released Khairullah Parhar, a sports reporter from eastern Nangarhar province, nearly four months after his detention, Afghanistan Journalists Centre (AFJC) confirmed in a statement on Thursday.

According to AFJC, Parhar has been released on ‘strict conditions’ however, further details about his release are not known, and the Taliban authorities have yet to comment in this regard.

Khairullah Parhar, 23, was arrested by the Taliban intelligence in Kabul on January 9. The reason for his detention is still unclear and the Taliban have not commented on the matter yet.

Moreover, AFJC stated in the statement that Khairullah Parhar has previously served as a sports journalist for the local media in eastern Nangarhar province and he is the only breadwinner in his family, who lives with his mother and wife in the capital city of Jalalabad.  

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Welcoming his release, the AFJC also called for the release of Mortaza Behboudi, a French-Afghan journalist who was arrested nearly four months earlier in Kabul and is still in Taliban’s custody.

Mortaza Behboudi was detained a few days after arriving in Kabul for a journalistic assignment.

Mortaza Behboudi was detained by Taliban intelligence agents on January 7 in Kabul after arriving in Afghanistan for a journalistic assignment. The group has accused him of espionage and refuses to release him despite several calls by the UN and human rights organizations.

AFJC has documented a total of at least 213 press freedom violations including 70 arrests of journalists in Afghanistan since World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2022,

Since returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban have often detained journalists and media workers as part of its systematic pressure to force the media and journalists to operate in line with the group’s broadcasting policy.