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Taliban arrest Afghan journalist amid clampdown on independent media
from www.afghanistantimes.
27-01-2024 - KABUL – In the ongoing suppression of independent media in Afghanistan, the Taliban have detained another Afghan journalist, Ehsan Akbari, in Kabul. Afghanistan Journalist Center (AFJC), a media watchdog, reported that Taliban intelligence officers arrested Akbari, a reporter for Japan’s Kyodo news agency.
Samia Walizada, Head of Communications and Litigation at AFJC, condemned the arrest, stating, “The arrest of this journalist shows that the ruling group is trying to suppress the media and freedom of expression.” The AFJC argues that the detention violates the country’s media laws established by the previous pro-Western Afghan republic.
Since reclaiming power in August 2021, the Taliban suspended Afghanistan’s constitution and most laws enacted during the two decades when they were not in control. The group issued vague guidelines for journalists, instructing them not to violate Afghan and Islamic values.
“We demand his immediate and unconditional release,” emphasized the AFJC in a statement, urging the Taliban to respect the country’s media laws and cease suppressing journalists and free media.
Ehsan Akbari was reportedly detained on January 17 at the government’s media and information center after being summoned for questioning. The Taliban intelligence officers took him to the news agency’s office in Kabul, seizing his laptop and camera. Akbari’s brother, Sayed Amir Akbari, revealed that militants compelled him to surrender his mobile phone upon their arrival.
As per the Taliban’s usual practice, the group has neither confirmed nor denied Akbari’s arrest. The detention of journalists has become more frequent in Afghanistan, with the Taliban holding Jawad Rasouli and Abdul Haq Hamidi on January 18. Both were released on January 20 after their families provided affidavits guaranteeing compliance with Taliban rules.
Highlighting the growing trend of journalist detentions, the AFJC reported that the Taliban arrested 61 journalists in 2023. While some were released after weeks or months, others received lengthy prison sentences.
The AFJC documented 168 cases of violence and intimidation against journalists in the past year, underscoring the extensive censorship imposed by the authoritarian rulers on the media.

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