CPJ welcomes release of Japanese journalist

New York, November 20, 2001—CPJ welcomes the release of Japanese free-lance journalist Daigen Yanagida, who was imprisoned for nearly a month by Taliban authorities in Jalalabad.

Yanagida was detained on October 22 in Asadabad after entering Afghanistan without a visa. He was later brought to Jalalabad for questioning.

On November 16, the Taliban released Yanagida and allowed him to travel to the Pakistani border. Because Taliban authorities had earlier confiscated his passport, local anti-Taliban Pashtun forces detained Yanagida at a checkpoint and sent him back to Jalalabad.

There, he stayed at the residence of a local leader sympathetic to former Afghan king Zahir Shah, according to news reports. On November 17, Yanagida again left Jalalabad for Pakistan, and he returned to Japan on November 19.

Guides freed

CPJ has also confirmed the release of four Pakistan-based guides who had been detained along with the Western journalists they escorted into Afghanistan.

On October 9, Taliban authorities detained two Pakistani nationals working as guides to French journalist Michel Peyrard. The three men were picked up about 20 miles from the eastern city of Jalalabad. Peyrard, who was disguised in an all-enveloping burqa gown at the time of his arrest, was freed on November 3.

On November 10, Taliban authorities released Mohammad Irfan, an administrator at an Islamic school in Peshawar, and escorted him to the Pakistani border crossing at Torkham, where Pakistani officials detained him briefly and then released him.

On November 12, the Taliban released Mukkaram Khan, a correspondent for the national Urdu-language daily Nawa-i-Waqt, and sent him back to Pakistan.

Two other Pakistan-based guides, Gul Muhmand and Jan Ali, who had accompanied British journalist Yvonne Ridley, have also been released. The two men were detained with Ridley on September 28, when she entered Afghanistan under cover of a burqa. Ridley was released on October 8.

Taliban authorities released Muhmand and Ali from their prison in Kabul shortly before evacuating the city on November 13. The two arrived home in Pakistan on November 16.