Taliban releases 7 local journalists arrested in media crackdown

Kabul, Mar 29 (EFE).- Afghanistan’s Taliban regime has released seven journalists arrested over the past few days, including six who were detained after several regional and international radio and international radio stations were shut down in the country’s south, a journalists’ guild said on Tuesday

The mediapersons were released late on Monday after intense negotiations between the Afghanistan Independent Journalists’ Union, its director Hujatullah Mujadidi told EFE.

The Taliban government had on Monday arrested six journalists in the southern Kandahar province, without providing the reason, along with shutting down four regional radio stations and banning the airing of international broadcasters such as the BBC and Voice of America.

Along with the six, Afghan journalist Mirwais Atal was also released after four days in custody of the Taliban’s intelligence agencies.

“I was fortunate to be released with the six other journalists. The reason behind my arrest was my campaign to reopen girls’ schools and motivating them to get educated,” Atal told EFE.

He said that even though he was not tortured physically during the detention, spending three days behind the bars, just for advocating girls’ education, amounted to “psychological torture.”

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 had been 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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