Photo: AFJC

Taliban Shuts Down Radio Station Amid Crackdown On Free Press 

Taliban intelligence agents forcibly closed Nasim Radio, a local radio station in the central province of Daikundi, and arrested its director and two reporters on Wednesday, September 27. The Taliban forces reportedly seized the employees’ equipements and personal gadgets, including mobile phones and voice recorders before sealing the station’s gate.  

Local Taliban officials have not yet commented on the raid and the reason for the shutdown remains unclear. Local sources confirmed that Sultan Ali Jawadi, the director, along with two of its reporters, Saifullah Rezaei and Mojtaba Qasemi were later released on bail. However, The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) said the raid was another attempt to further restrict free media and demanded the immediate reopening of Nasim Radio Station.

The Taliban takeover has decimated Afghanistan’s once-thriving media sector, leaving journalists vulnerable to arrest, harassment, and torture, despite an initial promise to allow press freedom after taking power in August 2021, the Taliban have shut down dozens of local media outlets, arrested and assaulted reporters, banned some international broadcasters, and denied visas to foreign correspondents.  

Recent reports from northeastern Afghanistan show a further increase in censorship and intimation by Taliban authorities. Journalists and media-supporting organizations say that self-censorship of journalists has also increased due to excessive pressure by the Taliban regime.

The Taliban have reportedly detained dozens of journalists and media personnel over the last two years. Some were allegedly tortured, but most were released after spending days or weeks in detention centers of the group’s General Directorate for Intelligence (GDI). In the past weeks, the Taliban arrested several journalists in Ghazni, Uruzgan, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Paktia, and Khost provinces. These journalists were released after providing guarantees to comply with the Taliban’s order not to work with “banned media outlets.” the group has unofficially categorized several newly established media outlets operating outside Afghanistan as hostile to their regime. 

The Taliban has waged a relentless campaign of crackdowns on media outlets and journalists. The Afghanistan Independent Journalist Union (AIJU) data show that since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, at least 19 journalists and media workers have been killed, 21 injured, 91 arrested, 38 assaulted, and 48 harassed.  According to AFJC, at least two journalists remain in Taliban custody. They are Mortaza Behboudi, an Afghanistan-born French journalist, who was detained in January 2023, and Aminullah Alemi, the founder of Mumtaz Radio Station in northern Faryab province, who was detained in July 2023.

During the past two years, almost half of Afghanistan’s once vibrant media have been either forced to cease operations or move their offices abroad as a result of the Taliban’s strict restrictions and continued pressure. Faced with the relentless harassment, many journalists have had to leave their jobs or even flee the country. A survey by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) counted 547 media outlets operating in the country in early 2021, saying over 50% of media outlets have closed down and many international news broadcasts have been banned. RSF reported that more than 80% of female journalists in Afghanistan have been forced to leave their jobs since the Taliban’s return to power.