New York, April 18, 2022 — The Taliban must immediately investigate the detention and alleged abuse in custody of Afghan journalist Mohib Jalili, and hold the perpetrators accountable, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On Saturday, April 16, more than seven armed men from the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) arrested Jalili, who was on his way home and works as a presenter with the independent 1TV station, in District 15 of the capital Kabul, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ by phone, a tweet by a local press freedom advocate, and the Afghanistan Journalists Center, a media watchdog group.
While Jalili was detained at a GDI office, Taliban intelligence agents beat him with a gun, resulting in a large welt on his left arm; called him names, such as the “devil journalist who ruins the Taliban’s reputation”; and held him for about three hours before releasing him without any charges, the journalist said. Upon release, an agent threatened Jalili and told him not to talk about the detention to any journalist or media outlets.
“The Taliban must stop the arbitrary detention, abuse, and beatings of Afghan journalists like Mohib Jalili and hold the group’s intelligence agents responsible for such actions,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Repeated attacks on the media are only depriving the people of Afghanistan with access to essential information, which is a basic right.”
On April 16, the DGI armed agents stopped Jalili, pulled him out of his vehicle, beat him with their guns, handcuffed him, threw the journalist in the back of his car, and drove him to a remote GDI station in District 15 of the capital, Jalili told CPJ.
While in GDI custody, agents repeatedly questioned Jalili, slapped him, and accused him of spying for foreign countries, the journalist said. The agents also checked the contents of his phone for three hours, he said. Jalili said he does not know what they were looking for and was not able to tell if they tampered with his phone.
Jalili, who covers news and current affairs as a presenter at 1TV station, suffered minor injuries to his head, as well as the welt on his left arm, he told CPJ. Previously, he was a producer, newscaster, and a current affairs presenter for the independent Ariana News station, according to news reports.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson in Afghanistan, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.