UN refugee agency reports arrest of partner journalists in Afghanistan

Kabul, Feb 11 (EFE).- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Friday flagged the arrest of two journalists and several Afghan citizens who were collaborating with the agency in Afghanistan, soon after the Taliban arrested two other media professionals, triggering concern over press freedom in the country.

“Two journalists on assignment with UNHCR and Afghan nationals working with them have been detained in Kabul. We are doing our utmost to resolve the situation, in coordination with others,” the agency tweeted.

However, it did not reveal the identities of the detainees and said that it would “make no further comment given the nature of the situation.”

Former Afghan vice-president Amrullah Saleh tweeted that the Taliban had arrested former BBC correspondent Andrew North and six other foreign citizens, without offering details about when they were arrested.

“Due to no media, no reporting by citizens & a suffocating atmosphere corruption, crime & atrocities aren’t well exposed. As an example 9 citizens of western countries hv been kidnapped amongst them Andrew North of BBC & Peter Juvenal owner of Gandomak Restaurant. Talibs r liars,” Saleh tweeted.

Last week the Islamist regime, which seized control of Afghanistan in August, arrested two journalists of local TV broadcaster Ariana News.

Although the two reporters, Aslam Hijab and Waris Aslam, were released two days later, their arrest led to a wave of criticism against the regime for the growing attacks on freedom of press in Afghanistan.

Nonprofits Free Speech Hub and Amnesty International and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan were some of the organizations that had sought clarifications from the Taliban over the arrests.

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. EFE


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