Mohib Jalili, an Afghan journalist working as a presenter with the independent station 1TV in District 15 of Kabul, was detained and allegedly abused by the Taliban intelligence service last week. This is the latest attack on press freedom in Afghanistan, where media has been facing ever-increasing restrictions since the Taliban takeover of the country last year.
On Sunday, Afghan journalist Sharif Hassanyar took to Twitter and said his colleague Mohib Jalili was arrested by the Taliban intelligence service. He also added that Jalili was badly beaten and tortured. “Afghanistan journalists paying the price of freedom of expression,” he wrote.
Later, on Monday, in an interview with Tolo News, Jalili confirmed his detention and said that armed men stopped his car at a checkpoint in Kabul on Friday night, detained him for hours and beat him. He added that he is still unaware of the reason for the same.
As per the Afghan Journalists’ Centre, Taliban forces also asked Jalili to not make the case public. The media watchdog has issued a statement calling for the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to refrain from detaining, intimidating and harassing journalists.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Jalili was detained at the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) office where intelligence agents beat him with a gun, resulting in a large welt on his left arm. The agents also called him names such as the “devil journalist who ruins the Taliban’s reputation” and held him for about three hours before releasing him without any charges, Jalili said.
“The Taliban must stop the arbitrary detention, abuse, and beatings of Afghan journalists like Mohib Jalili and hold the group’s intelligence agents responsible for such actions,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington DC. “Repeated attacks on the media are only depriving the people of Afghanistan of access to essential information, which is a basic right,” he added.
Earlier, in March, the Taliban had arrested three journalists for reporting on the ban of a foreign drama series in Afghanistan. They were released a few days later.
Soon after, the Taliban’s GDI raided at least four radio stations in the southern province of Kandahar for violating a ban on music. As per the CPJ, they also detained seven members of the media at the time and released them later. In addition to this, the Taliban had ordered local outlets to stop airing content from three international broadcasters, BBC, Voice Of America, and Deutsche Welle.