Photo: AFJC

Taliban releases freelance journalist Shamsullah Omari after 10 days of captivity

The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) has announced that the Taliban has released freelance journalist Shamsullah Omari, who was detained 10 days ago in southern Kandahar province.

In a statement on Wednesday, the AFJC welcomed Omari’s release but condemned his arbitrary arrest and detention as a serious violation of press freedom. The AFJC said that the conditions that led to Omari’s release are not yet clear.

Omari was detained along with Tolonews reporter Ataullah Omar and freelance reporter Wahidurahman Afghanmal by the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) in Kandahar on August 13. Afghanmal was released a day after his detention, but Ataullah Omar remains in custody.

The AFJC said, “We welcome the release of Shamsullah Omari, but it is clear that he and the two other journalists should never have been arrested in the first place. We call on the Taliban authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Tolonews TV reporter Ataullah Omar and other imprisoned journalists, put an end to these arbitrary arrests, and uphold the principles of press freedom and freedom of expression.”

The Taliban has not yet commented on Omari’s release.

According to the AFJC, the Taliban is currently holding 12 imprisoned journalists and media personnel, including Afghanistan-born French journalist Mortaza Behboudi, who was arrested in Kabul on January 7, and Iranian photojournalist Mohammad Hossein Velayati, who was arrested on August 19.