A woman in Herat, Afghanistan, checks her smartphone as pictured on February 14, 2022. (AFP/Wakil Kohsar)

Taliban shuts down two news websites in Afghanistan 

New York, October 4, 2022 – Taliban authorities must stop censoring news coverage in Afghanistan and allow Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News to operate under their internet domain names, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday. 

On Monday, October 3, the Taliban’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology said it had shut down the websites of Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News due to “false propaganda” against the Taliban, according to a tweet from the ministry’s spokesperson Anayatullah Alokozay and a report by the London-based independent Afghanistan International TV station

The Hasht-e Subh daily and Zawia News sites operated by Afghan journalists who have been reporting from exile since the August 2021 Taliban takeover, said in separate statements on Monday that the Taliban had deactivated their website domain names.

Hasht-e Subh Daily has since resumed operations online under a different domain name. Zawia News said it would continue to report on the website of its parent company, Zawia Media. 

“The Taliban must restore full online access to Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi in Frankfurt, Germany. “More than ever, Afghans and the world need to know what is happening in Afghanistan. The Taliban must stop suppressing the media.”

Hasht-e Subh Daily, an award-winning newspaper that has operated in Afghanistan since 2007, moved its operations entirely online after the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan last year. It has nearly 2.75 million combined followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Zawia News is part of Zawia Media, which describes itself as a “pioneer” of digital media in Afghanistan and covers “untold realities” about the country, according to its website. 

CPJ contacted ministry spokesperson Anayatullah Alokozay for comment about the shutdowns via messaging app but did not receive any response.

In August, CPJ published a special report about the media crisis in Afghanistan that shows a rapid deterioration in press freedom over the last year, marked by censorship, arrests, assaults, and restrictions on women journalists.