AFJC welcomes the release of the Afghan journalist Faizullah Faizbakhsh

January 4, 2023

Herat - The Afghanistan Journalists Center welcomed the release of Afghan journalist Faizullah Faizbakhsh after about five months and called on Taliban authorities to immediately and unconditionally release another journalist who is confirmed to be held in the Southeastern city of Khost.

A source told AFJC that Faizullah Faizbakhsh was released on 'strict conditions' from the General Directorate of Intelligence prison in Kabul on January 1.

CNN reported that Afghan producer Faizullah Faizbakhsh was arrested along with the American filmmaker Ivor Shearer in August 2022  while filming in Kabul, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. He was filming where a US drone had killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

According to the CPJ, security guards questioned Shearer and Faizbakhsh about their activities “and checked their work permits, ID cards, and passports.” They also “confiscated the journalists’ cellphones, detained them for a couple of hours, and repeatedly called them ‘American spies.’”

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, journalists and media workers have faced numerous challenges including attacks, arrests, harassment, intimidation, and censorship.

According to the AFJC’s annual report  released in December 2022, press freedom in the country 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 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.

AFJC said: “We welcome the release of Faizullah Faizbakhsh, but it is apparent that he should never have been arrested in the first place.” We call on the Islamic Emirate authorities to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Qutratullah Tarrar.”