Photo: Afghanistan Journalist Center

Taliban Detains Journalist in Northern Afghanistan Amid Media Crackdown

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – The Afghanistan Journalist Center (AFJC) reported on Sunday, February 11, the arrest of a local journalist in the northern Samangan province amid an intensified crackdown on media in Afghanistan.

In a statement, the AFJC stated that Saifullah Karimi, a reporter for the Pajhwok news agency, was detained after being summoned to the Taliban governor’s office in the province on Saturday, February 10.

According to the AFJC statement, the journalist had requested an interview with Bashir Ahmad Nomani, the head of the provincial finance department, regarding a protest by restaurant and hotel owners in the province over a tax increase, 10 days before the incident. However, Nomani refused the interview and subsequently reported the matter to the governor. Following this, the governor office summoned the journalist, and since then, there has been no information regarding his well-being or whereabouts. 

The media watchdog has expressed serious concern over Mr. Karimi’s detention and urges the Taliban authorities in the province to release him urgently and unconditionally. The organization further calls on the Taliban to uphold media laws and allow journalists to work in accordance with the laws.

Upon reclaiming power in August 2021, the Taliban pledged to uphold freedom of the press; however, the regime has, in practice, imposed extensive restrictions on media activities and journalists, frequently resorting to arrests, imprisonment, and instances of torture. AFJC has documented 168 incidents involving violations of journalists’ rights in the country in 2023, with 61 of them being arrests of journalists and media workers.

The AFJC says that the latest incident marks the fourth documented case of journalist arrests within the past three weeks. On January 18, journalists Ahmad Jawad Rasooli and Abdulhaq Hamidi from Gardesh-e-Etilaat News Agency were arrested, followed by Ehsan Akbari from Kyodo News on January 17, all detained by the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) in Kabul. Rasooli and Hamidi were released after two days, while Akbari was released after nine days in custody.

Currently, two more journalists remain detained by the Taliban. Aminullah Alemi, the manager of Mumtaz Radio station in northern Faryab province, and Sultan Ali Jawadi, the manager of Nasim Radio in Central Daikundi province, were both sentenced to one year in prison by the Taliban local courts last year. Mr. Jawadi was accused of being a foreign agent and spreading moral corruption, allegations often used to silence independent media, critics, and political opposition.