From left to right: Journalists Habibullah Sarab and Parwiz Sargand were released from the GDI detention center on September 2, 2023. In addition, Shah Mahmoud Hamdard was released from Uruzgan provincial prison.
September 2, 2023
Kabul, Trinkut, Uruzgan province - The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) welcomes the release of three local journalists who were unjustly detained in Paktia, Kunar, and Uruzgan provinces in August. Although we welcome this positive development, the AFJC urges the Taliban authorities to promptly release all remaining journalists and halt the ongoing harassment and targeting of journalists across Afghanistan.
Sources in Kabul said that Habibullah Sarab, a reporter for ArianaNews TV in southeastern Paktia province, and Parwiz Sargand, a freelance reporter in eastern Kunar province, were finally released from the Taliban's General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) detention center in Kabul. Habibullah Sarab was apprehended by GDI members on August 11th in Gardiz, Paktia's capital, while Parwiz Sargand was detained by the GDI on the same day in Asadabad, the capital of Kunar province.
Sources familiar with the matter have informed AFJC that the released journalists, who were accused of reporting for exiled media outlets, were granted their freedom on the condition that they do not work for such outlets. The Taliban has previously implemented measures to restrict engagement with media outlets that transmit content about Afghanistan from foreign territories.
Furthermore, Shah Mahmoud Hamdard, a presenter at the provincial branch of the National Radio Television of Afghanistan (RTA) in Southern Uruzgan province, was also released from prison in the capital Trinkut. Local authorities in the province have claimed that Hamdard's arrest was unrelated to his work at RTA. According to the AFJC sources, he was questioned and interrogated before being released on August 21st. However, his release was not previously announced due to certain concerns.
While the AFJC commends the release of these three journalists, it must be stressed that their initial arrest should never have occurred. We urge the Taliban authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all media personnel, including Murtzad Behboutdi, an Afghan-French reporter who has been held since January, and Aminullah Alemi, the manager of Mumtaz, a local radio station in Northern Fariab province who is custody since July 21. Additionally, the AFJC implores the Taliban to put an end to these arbitrary arrests, thereby upholding the fundamental principles of press freedom and freedom of expression.