Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 17, 2021. Members of a Taliban-affiliated militia recently detained Aref Noori, the owner of Noorin TV. (AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

Afghan TV station owner Aref Noori detained by Taliban-affiliated militia

New York, December 27, 2021— Taliban authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Aref Noori and ensure that members of the press are able to work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday, dozens of armed men who identified themselves as members of a militia affiliated with the Taliban-controlled Police District 4 in Kabul stormed and searched Noori’s house in the Karte Parwan area of the capital and detained him, according to news reports and his son Kashef Noori, who was present at the scene and spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

Noori, owner of the independent broadcaster Noorin Television, has not been seen by his family or a lawyer following his detention, according to his son, who said his whereabouts are unknown.

“The detention of media owner Aref Noori by a Taliban-affiliated militia marks a serious attack on the independent media in Afghanistan,” said CPJ Asia Coordinator Steven Butler. “Taliban authorities should immediately release Noori and stop intimidating independent voices in Afghanistan.”

Kashef Noori told CPJ that the journalist’s family contacted Police District 4, but a representative denied any involvement in the case and referred the family to the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence; the family contacted that directorate but did not receive any response.

Noorin TV often covers security issues in Afghanistan, and frequently airs programming supportive of the opposition Jamiat-e-Islami party. Kashef Noori said that the broadcaster had operated for the last decade but paused programming this week due to technical issues.

Ahmadullah Wasiq, a Taliban deputy spokesperson in Afghanistan, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app. CPJ was unable to find contact information for Police District 4 or the General Directorate of Intelligence.

Previously, on December 19, four unidentified men beat and stabbed Afghan journalist Jawed Yusufi in Kabul, as CPJ documented at the time.