Taliban intelligence agents detained Afghan producer Faizullah Faizbakhsh when he was on a filming assignment with American journalist and filmmaker Ivor Shearer in Kabul on August 17, 2022. As of late 2022, CPJ was unable to verify their whereabouts or health status.
Security guards stopped Faizbakhsh and Shearer who filmed in the Sherpur area of District 10 in Kabul, where a U.S. drone strike killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri earlier that month, according to a report by U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster VOA Dari and two journalists familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
The guards questioned them about their activities and checked their work permits, ID cards, and passports. Then they confiscated the journalists’ cellphones, detained them for a couple of hours, and repeatedly called them “American spies,” the journalists familiar with the case said.
Then the guards called Taliban intelligence. Around 50 armed intelligence operatives arrived later and blindfolded Shearer and Faizbakhsh, before transferring them to an unknown location, the journalists familiar with the case said.
Faizbakhsh works as a producer supporting international journalists in Afghanistan and was contracted by Shearer, the journalists familiar with the case said.
When asked about “Shearer and his Afghan producer” during a September press briefing, a U.S. senior administration official said officials were “aware of that matter,” but did not elaborate. In November, a U.S. Department of State spokesperson told CPJ in a text: “Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to comment specifically other than to say we are aware of reports of a detained U.S. citizen in Afghanistan.”
As of late 2022, CPJ was not able to verify the reason for the detention of Shearer and Faizbakhsh, where they were held, or their health status.
Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi and Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment sent via messaging app in September.