AFJC calls for the release of Afghan-French journalist Mortaza Behboudi

February 6, 2023

Kabul- Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Mortaza Behboudi, an Afghan-French reporter who has been imprisoned for a month in Kabul.

On Monday, February 6, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and 15 French media outlets and production companies with which Mortaza Behboudi has worked called on the Taliban to immediately release the journalist.

 “We remained silent for 30 days about the detention of Mortaza Behboudi, a journalist with French and Afghan dual nationality who is being held in a prison in Kabul, the Afghan capital.” “Today, we are letting the world know that he was arrested in Kabul one month ago, on 7 January, in the hope that he will be released as quickly as possible and will be able to return to France.” RSF said in a statement.”

The statement further said: “For the past month, the organization has done everything possible, in various capacities, to obtain his release.” His imprisonment is truly absurd.”

AFJC said:” We are gravely concerned that the whereabouts and the current situation of Mortaza Behboudi have not been disclosed as of the time of the release of this statement – which constitutes a violation of his visitation right.”

AFJC Said:” We call on the Islamic Emirate [Taliban] authorities to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Mortaza Behboudi and to cease the use of force and ensure the freedom of the press in Afghanistan.”

According to RSF, Behboudi began his career as a photojournalist at the age of 16 in Afghanistan, the country of his birth. When he was 21, he fled to France because he had been threatened, and was given refuge in the Maison des Journalistes (Journalists’ Home) in Paris. Along with other exiled journalists, he created a news website called Guiti News. He soon began freelancing for French and Francophone media outlets including France Télévisions, TV5 Monde, Arte, Radio France, Mediapart, Libération, and La Croix. He co-authored a series of reports called Across Afghanistan under the Taliban that was published by Mediapart and was awarded the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents and the French National Daily Varenne Prize. He contributed to a report entitled Young Afghan girls sold in order to survive that was broadcast by France 2 and was also awarded the Bayeux Prize in 2022.

The AFJC’s annual report released in December 2022, shows that press freedom in Afghanistan is rapidly fading. AFJC recorded a total of 260 violations including threats, detentions, and violent confrontations, which is a sharp 138% increase from 2021. Of the total number of events recorded in 2022, at least 119 journalists and media workers were temporarily detained for one to several hours and days and several months, the majority of which have been accompanied by physical and psychological violence, insults, and humiliation of detainees.

Among the detained journalists in 2022, at least one journalist confirmed that still in prison. Qudratullah Tarar, a reporter for Zarghun TV from the southeastern city of Khost was arrested for his journalism work and critical posts on social media on November 11, 2022. Meanwhile, a source confirmed to AFJC that a sports journalist Khairullah Parhar from eastern Jalalabad city who was arrested by the GDI on January 9, is still in prison.