Giant counter marking length of Franco-Afghan reporter’s detention in Afghanistan is unveiled in Paris
As Franco-Afghan journalist Mortaza Behboudi completed six months in detention in Afghanistan, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) unveiled a giant counter on the facade of the Paris-Centre town hall on 6 July showing the number of days, hours and minutes he has been held.
The giant counter – which will remain in place and will keep counting the length of Behboudi’s detention until he is released – was unveiled at 6 p.m. in a ceremony organised by RSF and the Mortaza Behboudi Support Committee. He has been detained since 7 January.
Paris-Centre mayor Ariel Weil, deputy Paris mayor Jean-Luc Romero-Michel, Behboudi’s wife Aleksandra Mostovaja and RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire all spoke at the event, stressing the need to step up the campaign for Behboudi’s release.
“It’s a sad anniversary that we are observing today, one marking journalist Mortaza Behboudi’s completion of six months in arbitrary detention. Every minute that this reporter spends in a prison cell is one too many. Our campaign, reinforced by an active support committee, is being heard by the Taliban authorities. We keep discussion channels open with them. This absurd situation has lasted far too long. Now is the time for Mortaza to be freed.
As the giant counter was unveiled, a fleet of boats covered with #FREEMORTAZA visuals set off from the port of Douarnenez in another show of solidarity organised by the Mortaza Behboudi Support Committee. The town halls of the 17th and 19th arrondissements of Paris, and those of Douarnenez and Brest will unveil giant #FREEMORTAZA banners tomorrow in a further show of support.
Organising events to mark Behboudi’s completion of six months in detention is all the more important given the possibility that formal charges could be brought against him. Strong and ambitious shows of support could help to deter this, and to speed his release.
Behboudi began his career as a photojournalist at the age of 16 in Afghanistan, the country where he was born. As a result of the threats he received in Afghanistan, he has been a refugee in France for several years. He was arrested by the Taliban in Kabul just 48 hours after arriving there on a reporting visit.
Afghanistan is ranked 156th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2023 World Press Freedom Index.