New York, October 9, 2023—Taliban authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalists Sultan Ali Jawadi, Saifullah Rezaei, and Mojtaba Qasemi and cease harassing the press in Afghanistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On Saturday, three Taliban intelligence operatives took the independent Radio Nasim’s director, Jawadi, and two of its journalists, Rezaei and Qasemi, from Jawadi’s home in the city of Nili in central Daikundi Province and detained them in an unknown location, according to the non-profit Afghanistan Journalist Center and a reporter familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation.
It was the second time in 10 days that the Taliban detained the three journalists. On September 27, the Islamist militant group’s intelligence operatives raided and sealed Radio Nasim’s office, stopped it broadcasting, and took Jawadi, Rezaei, and Qasemi to the provincial intelligence headquarters, the reporter said. The Taliban freed the Radio Nasim journalists after five hours but retained their mobile phones, the reporter added.
“The detention of Radio Nasim’s director and two journalists in Daikundi Province is another example of the Taliban’s far-reaching—and intensifying— crackdown on the media in recent months in Afghanistan,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Taliban authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Sultan Ali Jawadi, Saifullah Rezaei and Mojtaba Qasemi and end this practice of detaining journalists and closing media outlets.”
CPJ could not immediately determine the reason for the journalists’ detention. Radio Nasim reports on current affairs and rebroadcasts content from an international radio network.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment via messaging app.
Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, the Taliban’s repression of the Afghan media has worsened. On the second anniversary of the group’s return to power, CPJ called on the Taliban to stop its relentless campaign of intimidation and abide by its promise to protect journalists in Afghanistan.