A Taliban official and his bodyguards recently beat and detained Afghan journalist Sayed Rashed Kashefi. (Photo: ToloNews)

Taliban official and bodyguards beat, detain journalist Sayed Rashed Kashefi

New York, December 14, 2021—The Taliban must immediately and thoroughly investigate the beating and detention of journalist Sayed Rashed Kashefi and ensure that members of the press can operate freely and safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On December 11, the director of the Taliban-controlled Kabul Directorate of Refugee Affairs, Abdul Matin Rahimzai, and his bodyguards stopped Kashefi from filming them, detained him for about six hours, and beat him, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

“The beating and detention of journalist Sayed Rashed Kashefi marks another outrageous attack on a journalist just reporting the news; this directly contradicts the Taliban’s promises to allow the media to operate freely,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “The Taliban must thoroughly investigate this incident, return the journalist’s devices, and ensure that its members cease attacking and detaining members of the press.”

Kashefi, a reporter with the privately owned online news channel Rasa TV and the state-owned newspaper The Kabul Times, told CPJ that he was filming those bodyguards attack women at an aid distribution site in Kabul, the capital, when Rahimzai approached the journalist and demanded to see the footage on his phone, which Kashefi quickly deleted.

The director then slapped the journalist across the face and confiscated his smartphone and voice recorder, and his bodyguards handcuffed Kashefi and took him to the office of the Kabul Directorate of Refugee Affairs, the journalist told CPJ.

There, Rahimzai and his bodyguards interrogated Kashefi about why he recorded the scuffle at the aid distribution site, and the bodyguards repeatedly hit Kashefi on the back with a pipe at the director’s orders, the journalist said, adding that he was handcuffed for the six hours in custody.

Kashefi falsely told the men that he worked for a foreign media organization in an attempt to aid his release, and Rahimzai then let him go him immediately, but did not return his phone or voice recorder, according to the journalist. Kashefi sustained lesions on his back from the beating, as seen in photos posted to Twitter by the Afghanistan Journalists Center, a local press freedom group.

Kashefi told CPJ that a Taliban spokesperson contacted him yesterday and told him that he would look into the case.

Rasa TV publishes video reporting on Afghan politics on its Facebook page, where it has about 4,000 followers, and on YouTube, where it has about 1,000 followers. The Kabul Times is a state-owned English-language newspaper that has continued to publish since the Taliban takeover, and covers domestic and international politics, economics, health, and social 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 immediately find contact information for Abdul Matin Rahimzai. 

Previously, on November 18, two unidentified men beat and attempted to shoot Afghan journalist Ahmad Baseer Ahmadi, as CPJ documented at the time.