New York, December 13, 2023—Taliban authorities must immediately release Afghan journalist Sultan Ali Jawadi, drop all charges against him, and stop imprisoning members of the press for their work in Afghanistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On Sunday, December 10, a Taliban court in the city of Nili, in central Daikundi Province, sentenced Jawadi, director of the independent Radio Nasim, to one year in prison, according to local media support group the Afghanistan Journalists Center and two journalists familiar with his case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, due to fear of Taliban retaliation. He was convicted of spreading anti-regime propaganda, committing espionage for foreign organizations, and cooperating with foreign media, the two journalists told CPJ.
The ruling was issued in the presence of Jawadi and his wife, with the local Taliban’s intelligence agency presenting the charge sheet just before the start of the closed-door proceeding. Jawadi was taken back to prison after the verdict, according to those sources.
Jawadi was detained alongside two other journalists from the radio station, Saifullah Rezaei, and Mojtaba Qasemi, on October 7. The two other journalists have since been released.
“Taliban authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Radio Nasim director Sultan Ali Jawadi and stop detaining Afghan journalists and media workers,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi. “This is a grave injustice. Jawadi’s conviction on vague charges during shoddy legal proceedings shows how the Taliban’s sweeping measures against journalists are impeding even basic newsgathering.”
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for comment.
Since the Taliban retook control of the country 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.