Taliban Release Head of Private TV Network

The Taliban on Tuesday released a prominent Afghan TV station owner who was detained for two days, according to the independent media monitoring group Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC).

The Taliban did not say why Mohammad Arif Noori, the founder and owner of Noorin TV, was detained.

AFJC in a statement said it “condemns the arbitrary detention of Mr. Noori”, calling it an “infringement of press freedom.”

Noori was taken from his home in Kabul on Sunday afternoon, according to his son Roman Noori.

The younger Noori accused Taliban forces of “raiding” and searching his family’s house without a warrant before taking his father to an unknown location.

The motive for the elder Noori’s arrest remains uncertain. But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) that the arrest was not related to Noori’s media activities, AIJA said in a statement sent to VOA. 

The Committee to Project Journalists had called for Mohammad Arif Noori’s immediate and unconditional release.

In a statement, CPJ said dozens of armed men who identified themselves as members of a militia affiliated with Taliban-controlled police district in Kabul stormed Noori’s house and detained him.

“The detention of media owner Aref Noori by a Taliban-affiliated militia marks a serious attack on the independent media in Afghanistan,” CPJ Asia Coordinator Steven Butler said in a statement, referring to Mohammad Arif Noori.

Citing Kashif Noori, another son of the TV executive, CPJ said Noorin TV had operated for the past decade but paused programming this week due to technical issues.

Mohammad Arif Noori is a known supporter of an anti-Taliban group headed by Ahmad Massoud, who fought off Taliban forces in his native Panjshir valley north of Kabul before being overrun in early September.

At least 31 journalists have been detained or arrested by the Taliban since they took over in mid-August, according to the journalists association.

Photojournalist Mortaza Samadi was arrested in September while covering a women’s protest in the western city of Heart and spent several weeks in Taliban detention.

Last week, Jawed Yusufi, a reporter for the independent outlet Ufuq News, was stabbed and badly wounded by three unidentified men in western Kabul, according to his employer and local media advocates.

The Taliban takeover has decimated Afghanistan’s media. A joint survey by AIJA and Reporters Without Borders released last week found that at least 40% of the country’s media outlets have disappeared and more than 80% of Afghan women journalists have lost their jobs over the last four months.

Ayaz Gul contributed to this report from Islamabad.

 

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