Taliban fighters are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 22, 2021. Taliban militants recently raided the homes of two additional Afghan journalists. (AP/Rahmat Gul)

Taliban raids homes of 2 more journalists in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C., August 24, 2021 – The Taliban must immediately cease raiding the homes of journalists and allow the media to operate freely and openly without fear of violence or reprisal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On August 17 and 20, Taliban militants raided the homes of at least two members of the press, according to those journalists and photos and video of the incidents, which CPJ reviewed. Taliban militants have also searched the homes of at least four other media workers since taking power in the country earlier this month, as CPJ has documented.

“The Taliban leadership must intervene to prevent the harassment of journalists and unwarranted searches of their homes by its fighters,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “The Taliban need to prove that their stated support for press freedom in Afghanistan truly means something, and ensure that its members stop raiding journalists’ homes and return all confiscated materials immediately.”

On August 17, Taliban militants in Ghazni city, in Ghazni province, broke into the home of Khadija Ashrafi, general manager of the Bakhtar News Agency, which was run by the former Afghan government, according to Ashrafi, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app, and photos of the ransacked home, which CPJ reviewed.

Ashrafi told CPJ that she had gone into hiding prior to the search and did not know if the Taliban took anything from her home.

On August 20, at about 9:30 a.m., Taliban militants raided the Kabul home of Zalmay Latifi, director of the privately owned broadcaster Enikass Radio and TV, according to Latifi, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app, and a video of the raid, which CPJ reviewed.

During that raid, the Taliban members seized three cars and licensed weapons from the premises, according to Latifi. At about noon on August 21, militants returned to Latifi’s home and seized two desktop computers, he said.

Latifi told CPJ that he had also gone into hiding prior to the raid.

CPJ called and texted Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid for comment, but the calls and messages did not go through. CPJ was unable to find other contact details for Mujahid.

In March, unidentified attackers shot and killed three Enikass Radio and TV employees in Jalalabad, as CPJ documented at the time. In December 2020, Enikass Radio and TV reporter Malalai Maiwand and her driver were shot and killed; the Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, according to Reuters.