Kabul has had a clampdown on media freedoms since the Taliban seized power last year | Photo: Adrien Vautier / Le Pictorium / MAXPPP / dpa / picture alliance
Kabul has had a clampdown on media freedoms since the Taliban seized power last year | Photo: Adrien Vautier / Le Pictorium / MAXPPP / dpa / picture alliance

Afghans working with the journalists have also been released. The Taliban has imposed strict measures on media and free expression since taking power last August.

Two foreign journalists and Afghans working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have been released after news broke about their detentions on Friday. 

The Taliban-appointed deputy minister of culture and communications, Zabihullah Mujahid, wrote on Twitter that they were detained because they did not have documents that properly identified them as UNHCR. He said they were freed after their identities were confirmed.

The UNHCR said they were "grateful to all who expressed concern and offered help."

One of the journalists kidnapped was Andrew North, a former BBC correspondent who has covered Afghanistan for about two decades.

He has regularly traveled to the war-ravaged country to report on its deteriorating humanitarian crisis.

Taliban crackdown on journalists

Earlier the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for the immediate release of the journalists.

"The Taliban's detention of two journalists on assignment with the UN refugee agency is a sad reflection of the overall decline of press freedom and increasing attacks on journalists under Taliban rule,'' Steven Butler, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, said.

The Taliban defeated NATO-backed Afghan forces in August last year and has forcefully cracked down on journalists

Earlier this month, Reporters Without Borders reported that at least 50 Afghan media workers have been arrested or detained by the police or the Taliban intelligence agency. 

It said that the arrests, often accompanied by violence, have lasted from several hours to nearly a week. 

lo/jsi/sms (AFP, AP, dpa)

First published: February 11, 2022

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