United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has flagged the arrest of two journalists and several Afghan citizens who were collaborating with the agency in Afghanistan, soon after the Taliban arrested two other media professionals, triggering concern over press freedom in the country.
Former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh tweeted that the Taliban had arrested former BBC correspondent Andrew North and six other foreign citizens, without offering details about when they were arrested.
“Due to no media, no reporting by citizens and a suffocating atmosphere corruption, crime and atrocities aren’t well exposed.
“As an example 9 citizens of western countries have been kidnapped amongst them Andrew North of BBC and Peter Juvenal owner of Gandomak Restaurant,” Saleh tweeted.
Last week the Islamist regime, which seized control of Afghanistan in August, arrested two journalists of local TV broadcaster Ariana News.
Although the two reporters, Aslam Hijab and Waris Aslam, were released two days later, their arrest led to a wave of criticism against the regime for the growing attacks on freedom of press in Afghanistan.
Nonprofits Free Speech Hub, Amnesty International and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan were some of the organizations that had sought clarifications from the Taliban over the arrests.
The Taliban’s ascent to power, after they seized Kabul on August 15, has had a negative impact on freedom of expression in Afghanistan, several local and international groups have warned.
In mid January, a poll conducted by Afghanistan’s National Journalists Union showed that 95 percent of the surveyed journalists across the country’s 34 provinces agreed that there was a lack of freedom under the Taliban regime.