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Press body condemns Taliban arrest of 3 Afghan journalists

12 Jan, 2022
Faisal Modaris (center, with microphone) is seen in a broadcast by the Kabul Lovers YouTube-based outlet.  CPJ
Faisal Modaris (center, with microphone) is seen in a broadcast by the Kabul Lovers YouTube-based outlet. CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday called on the Taliban to immediately release three Afghan journalists and cease desisting press members for their work.

Faisal Modaris, Idris Rahimi, and Milad Azizi, who work at the Kabul Lovers YouTube-based broadcaster, were detained by the Taliban on January 6 while they were at a restaurant in the Shari Naw area of Kabul’s District Four, according to three people who told CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation by the Taliban.

Local journalists also tweeted about their arrest.

According to CPJ's release on Tuesday, "the journalists are being held by the counterterrorism body of the Directorate General of Intelligence, the Taliban’s intelligence agency, and have not been able to see their families or lawyers."

The three recently covered protests in Panjshir province and featured protesters harshly criticizing the Taliban. The video was viewed at least 100,000 times, and it has been cited by international news outlets including the BBC. The people who spoke to CPJ "said they believed that reporting, because it contained criticism of the Taliban and was so widely shared, was likely the reason for the journalists’ arrests."

The CPJ said it tried to contact Ahmadullah Wasiq, a Taliban deputy spokesperson in Afghanistan, but he did not respond.

In September last year, the BBC reported Afghan journalists telling the media outlet about beatings by the Taliban while they were covering protests.

Photos of two journalists from Etilaatroz newspaper with welts and bruises after their arrest went viral on social media.

The CPJ then reported that at least 14 journalists had been detained and then released in a two-day period in September.

"We urge the Taliban to live up to those earlier promises, to stop beating and detaining reporters doing their job, and allow the media to work freely without fear of reprisal," Butler then said.