July 27, 2021
The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives, and journalists for press freedom, today condemned the arrest of four journalists in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and called on the government to release them immediately.
According to the Afghanistan Journalists’ Center, the four journalists, Bismillah Watandoost, Qudrat Soltani, Mujib Obaidi, and Sanaullah Siam were detained by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security this morning on their return to Kandahar city after interviewing a Taliban commander in Spin Boldak district. Kandahar. Watandoost, Soltani, and Obaidi work for a radio station and Siam is a freelance reporter. Watandoost reportedly is also a peace activist.
“The arrest of four journalists by the Afghan authorities because they interviewed a Taliban commander is an affront to press freedom”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said. “IPI calls for their immediate release.”
The reporters met with members of the Taliban in Kandahar’s Spin Boldak district, which was taken over by Taliban forces in early July, before interviewing the commander. The group was investigating reports of mass disappearances and extrajudicial executions in the district. On July 16, a Reuters photojournalist, Danish Siddiqui was killed in clashes between government troops and Taliban fighters in Spin Boldak.
Taliban forces have detained hundreds of residents across the district, accusing them of associating with the Afghan government. The Taliban have reportedly killed some detained residents, including police officers, army officials, and family of government officials
So far this year, five journalists have been killed in Afghanistan. Journalists in Afghanistan have expressed great concern about their safety, following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops earlier this year.