A Taliban fighter stands guard in Kandahar, Afghanistan on May 1, 2022. (AFP/Javed Tanveer)

Taliban intelligence agents detain four media workers in Kabul, Herat, and Paktia provinces

Washington, D.C., May 31, 2022 – Taliban authorities must investigate the beating and detention of journalist Roman Karimi and the detention of his driver, who goes by the single name Samiullah, and immediately and unconditionally release radio station owner Jamaluddin Dildar and former radio station owner Mirza Hasani, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

On Sunday, May 29, Karimi and Samiullah were in the Haji Yaqub roundabout of Kabul District 10 to cover a protest by Afghan women for the local Salam Watander radio station when a Taliban intelligence agent approached Karimi, grabbed his hands, took his phone and voice recorder, and pushed him inside a traffic booth, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via phone, and a report on Salam Watandar’s website. In the booth, the officer demanded to know who he worked for, questioned him about his coverage of the protest, and slapped his face while other agents reviewed the contents of Karimi’s phone, he said. 

“The Taliban must immediately release Jamaluddin Dildar and Mirza Hasani and investigate the detention and attack of Roman Karimi and the detention of his driver Samiullah,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler. “The recent increase in arbitrary detentions of media workers and journalists mark a disturbing deterioration of press freedom and the ability of the Afghan people to access accurate, timely information.” 

Karimi told CPJ that intelligence agents then took him by military vehicle to the 10th directorate of the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) in Kabul. While en route, the agents detained Samiullah, who was sent to pick up Karimi. The two were detained for seven hours, questioned about their work, and released on condition that they would not cover protests or similar events in the future, Karimi said. 

In another incident, on Tuesday, May 24, Taliban intelligence agents detained Dildar, owner and executive editor of local radio station Radio Saday-e-Gardez, at his office in Gardez city of Paktia province and transferred him to an undisclosed location, according to Dildar’s brother Parwiz Ahmad Dildar, who spoke to CPJ via phone, and news reports. The journalist’s brother said that the radio station has ceased operations since the arrest. 

Separately on the same day, Taliban intelligence agents detained Hasani, the former owner and editor of Radio Aftab, a local radio station in Daikundi province that stopped operations amid the Taliban takeover last August, at a checkpoint in District 12 of Herat city, according to a local journalist who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, news reports, and a tweet by Afghan journalist Alisher Shahir. The agents searched Hasani’s phone and, after seeing journalistic posts on his social media accounts, transferred him to the 12th Directorate of Taliban’s GDI in Herat, the journalist said. The journalist told CPJ that Hasani was being held on accusations of working as a journalist for anti-Taliban militant group National Resistance Front (NRF), but has not been officially charged. 

CPJ contacted Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, for comment via messaging app but did not receive any response. 

CPJ has documented the increasingly prominent role of the General Directorate of Intelligence in controlling news media and intimidating journalists in Afghanistan.