Photo: Safa Radio/AFJC

Media watchdog calls on the Taliban to free all journalists

Following the recent release of journalist Irfanullah Bidar who was detained by the Taliban nearly two weeks ago, a media watchdog has urged the Taliban to put an end to arbitrary arrests against journalists and called on the group to set free all journalists who remain imprisoned.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reported that the Bidar, who was working as a reporter and presenter for Safa Radio, was released on Monday after being abducted and detained by Taliban agents in the eastern Nangarhar’s Jalalabad capital on June 12.

IFJ stated that the Taliban authorities failed to provide any information on Bidar’s disappearance or the reason behind his arrest, leaving his family desperate and ill-informed about his safety and whereabouts during his detention.

Since retaking power nearly two years ago, the Taliban authorities have cracked down on media freedoms, and many domestic media outlets have disappeared. Journalists and media workers have been subjected to threats, intimidation, arrest, or torture.

While many journalists have curtailed independent reporting to appease the Taliban’s media guidelines, others have been forced to quit their jobs or seek refuge in neighboring Iran and Pakistan but also in the West.

IFJ has expressed concerns over the arbitrary detention of journalists and called on the international media community to assist in ensuring the release of those who remain in the Taliban’s detention centers.

“The all too common disappearances, arrests, and attacks suffered by media workers under Taliban rule continue to quash press freedom and create a highly dangerous environment for journalists doing their jobs. The IFJ urges the Taliban to release all jailed journalists and cease its intimidation of Afghanistan’s media.” The media watchdog said in the statement.

Among the journalists in Taliban captivity is Mortaza Behboudi, who was detained by the group’s intelligence agents on 7 January this year. And despite repeated calls, the Taliban has refused to free him or comment on his fate.