Taliban fighters are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, on October 13, 2022. Taliban intelligence agents recently detained journalist Khairullah Parhar. (AFP/Wakil Kohsar)

Afghan journalist Khairullah Parhar detained by Taliban since January 9

New York, January 23, 2023 – Taliban authorities must immediately release Afghan journalist Khairullah Parhar and stop arbitrarily detaining members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On January 9, agents with the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence detained Parhar, a reporter and chair of the Nangarhar Sports Journalists Association in Kabul, the capital, according to the independent broadcaster Afghanistan International and a source familiar with the matter who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.

CPJ was unable to determine Parhar’s whereabouts or the reason for his arrest.

“The Taliban must immediately release Afghan journalist Khairullah Parhar and stop their continued arbitrary detention of journalists and media workers in the country,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi. “The Taliban’s intelligence agency has been the main force behind the worsening crackdown on independent and critical reporting in Afghanistan, and must be held to account.”

The person who spoke to CPJ said that GDI officers confiscated Parhar’s mobile phone at a cricket stadium in the eastern province of Nangarhar on December 14, after checking the device’s contents. CPJ could not determine whether Parhar, a freelance reporter and the head of the local sports journalists’ group, was reporting at the stadium at the time.

A few days later, authorities summoned Parhar to Kabul to collect his phone; he left for the city on January 9 and was detained after he arrived, that person said.

CPJ has documented the GDI’s expanded role in persecuting and abusing journalists in Afghanistan since the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan in August 2021.

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