Taliban intelligence agency’s arrests of journalists undermine press freedom in Afghanistan

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the arbitrary arrests of three Afghan journalists by Taliban intelligence in the space of two days in Kabul and calls for the immediate release of the one still held, the Kabul correspondent of Japan’s Kyodo News agency. The Taliban must stop obstructing journalists’ work, RSF says.

Update of 25/01/2024: Ehsan Akbari, a journalist with the Japanese news agency "Kyodo", was released on 25 January after nine days of arbitrary detention by the GDI.


A worrying wave of arrests in Kabul. Kyodo News reporter Ehsan Akbari was arrested by the Taliban General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) after being summoned to the Government Media and Information Centre (GMIC) in the capital, Kabul on 17 January. The next day, GDI officers went to Akbari’s office and confiscated his laptop and camera, and then went to his home and seized his phone, his brother said. The GDI have provided no official information about the arrest of Akbari, who is still being held.

 On 18 January, the GDI also turned its sights on Gardesh-e-Etilaat, an Afghan news agency that was launched last year. Owner Ahmad Jawad Rasooli and editor Abdulhaq Hamidi were arrested and interrogated after being summoned to GDI headquarters in Kabul. The next day, GDI officers escorted Hamidi to his home and seized his phone. Rasooli and Hamidi were finally released on 20 January, after being held for two days.

“These detentions are a continuation of the Taliban government’s unacceptable persecution of the media. The intelligence agency’s repeated arrests of media personnel are an abhorrent strategy designed to intimidate independent journalists and suppress any form of media freedom. The GDI’s arbitrary detentions are also a direct violation of Afghan media law, under which any complaints against journalists and media are supposed to be handled by the Media Complaints and Rights Violations Commission (MCRVC), in order to prevent other departments from interfering in media affairs. We demand Ehsan Akbari’s immediate release and we urge the GDI to end its campaign of punitive arrests of journalists

South Asia Desk
Reporters Without Borders

The detentions are the latest in a long list of arbitrary arrests of journalists in recent months. Abdul Rahim Mohammadi, a journalists with Tamadon TV, an independent television channel, was arrested by the GDI in the southern city of Kandahar on 4 December without any reason being given by the GDI or the local authorities.

Sultan Ali Javadi, the director of Radio Nasim, an independent web radio based in Nili, the capital of the central province of Daykundi, was arrested arbitrarily in October and was sentenced by a Nili court on 11 December to one year in prison on charges of “propaganda against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and “spying for foreign and infidel countries.”’

 Afghanistan is ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2023 World Press Freedom Index. Three journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since the start of 2023 and three are currently detained.

178/ 180
Score : 19.09
Published on