Taliban soldiers patrol a checkpoint in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, August 6, 2023. (Reuters/Ali Khara)

Taliban intelligence agents detain three journalists on claims they reported for exiled media

New York, August 11, 2023 — Taliban authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalists Faqir Mohammad Faqirzai, Jan Agha Saleh, and Hasib Hassas, and cease detaining members of the press for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.

On Thursday, August 10, officials from the General Directorate of Intelligence, the Taliban’s intelligence agency, stormed the office of the independent Killid radio station in Jalalabad city, in eastern Nangarhar province, and detained its manager Faqirzai and reporter Saleh, according to the non-profit Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC)and a journalist with knowledge of the situation who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation by the Taliban.

Separately, also on Thursday, Taliban intelligence operatives entered offices of the independent Uranus TV network in Kunduz city in northern Afghanistan and detained Hasib Hassas, a journalist at the independent radio Salam Watandar, according to the AFJC and another journalist who spoke with CPJ anonymously due to fear of Taliban reprisal.

CPJ’s journalist sources said that Faqirzai, Saleh, and Hassas were detained on accusations that they reported for exiled media. 

“The detention of journalists Faqir Mohammad Faqirzai, Jan Agha Saleh, and Hasib Hassas just before the second anniversary of the fall of Kabul shows the Taliban is determined to continue their brutal crackdown on the media,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Taliban authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the three journalists and stop muzzling reporting, whether it is conducted for local media or the exiled press.”

The journalist sources said that the three were transferred to an undisclosed location; CPJ was unable to determine their whereabouts. 

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not respond to a CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, the country’s media have been in crisis, with journalists facing arrestsraids on offices, and beatings. The Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence has emerged as a key threat to journalists in the country. Some journalists who fled the country have established media outlets to continue reporting on Afghanistan in exile.