Taliban release detained Afghan journalists after outcry

Kabul, Feb 2 (EFE).- Taliban security forces on Wednesday released two journalists of Afghan broadcaster Ariana News, two days after they were detained in a development that resulted in widespread criticism of the regime over its perceived attacks on freedom of press.

“Fortunately, our colleagues have been released by the Taliban security forces, but still the information regarding the reason behind their arrest has not been provided by the Islamic Emirate,” the head of reporting for Ariana News, Ali Jawad Asghari, told EFE.

Asghari said that his released colleagues, Aslam Hijab and Waris Aslam, have also not shared any details regarding their arrest on Monday.

The reporters’ arrest had been condemned by both the press and international rights groups, which demanded their release and urged the Taliban to respect freedom of press.

The Free Speech Hub urged the Taliban-led government to “immediately release the detained journalists and not suppress freedom of expression in Afghanistan.”

Amnesty International had also said that the detentions were “not justifiable,” and added that such moves pose a “grave threat to the right to freedom of expression.”

Similarly the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan urged the Taliban to “make public why they detained these Ariana News reporters & to respect Afghans’ rights.”

After a wave of criticism, on Tuesday evening the Taliban denied their involvement in the journalists’ disappearance and said they did not possess information about their whereabouts.

The Taliban’s ascent to power, after they seized Kabul on Aug. 15, has had a negative impact on freedom of expression in Afghanistan, several local and international groups have warned.

In mid-January, a poll conducted by Afghanistan’s National Journalists Union showed that 95 percent of the surveyed journalists across the country’s 34 provinces agreed that there was a lack of freedom under the Taliban regime.

Moreover, a report jointly released in December by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Afghan Independent Journalist Association said that more than 230 media outlets had been forced to shut down since the Islamist group seized power, rendering around 6,400 journalists jobless.

Establishment of independent media outlets was one of the major achievements of the last two decades in Afghanistan after the fall of the previous Taliban regime in 2001. EFE


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