Posted: June 21, 2005
Sayed Sulaiman Ashna, Tolo TV
Massood Qiam, Tolo TV
Shakeb Isaar, Tolo TV
A series of threats were made against Afghan journalists at the popular private television station Tolo TV in the capital, Kabul.
Sayed Sulaiman Ashna, a senior journalist with Tolo TV and Radio Arman and the host of the evening news program “Tawdi Kharabari” (Hot Talk), started receiving threatening phone calls soon after a June 6 interview with ex-Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil. Ashna told CPJ that he posed serious questions to Mutawakil in the interview, as he has done with the many other government officials who have appeared on his show since the station launched in October 2004. Soon after the show aired, unidentified individuals began calling Ashna, warning him that they know where he lives, accusing him of working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and threatening to kill him, Ashna told CPJ. Another caller warned him to stop broadcasting his program. Ashna says that this is not first time that he has received threats. He moved with his family out of Kabul and no longer appears on the air out of fear of reprisals, he told CPJ.
Massood Qiam, another Tolo TV reporter with the current affairs program “6:30 Report,” said that local authorities recently threatened and intimidated him and other journalists from the show after he began investigating questionable land deals involving the former royal family. Tolo TV Director Saad Mohseni reported the threats to police in Kabul.
Another Tolo TV staffer, popular music video presenter Shakeb Isaar, was also under threat and was forced to live near the Tolo station in Kabul to protect himself before leaving the country for his safety. According to Mohseni, Isaar was forced out of the Kabul Unversity journalism school in retaliation for his work on the channel, which is provocative by local standards. Isaar was physically and verbally abused on numerous occasions, Mohseni told CPJ.