Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Afghanistan 21 September 2005

Two journalists no longer held by their kidnappers

Journalists Mohammed Taqi Seraj and Baseer Seerat and a civil servant, Shah Jan, are free after being held for six days in the northeastern Nuristan region by abductors who were believed to be the followers of local warlords.

Seraj said they were not tortured. He said they managed to get away at night as their abductors were sleeping and were eventually picked up by a vehicle of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) near Jalalabad.

Journalists abducted, arrested and threatened in pre-election violence


Journalists have been targeted in violence in the run-up to parliamentary and provincial assembly elections on 18 September 2005.

While dozens of people have been killed, three journalists have been kidnapped, two of whom are still being held, at least two have been arrested and many others have been threatened in the past two weeks.

Reporters Without Borders is particularly concerned about the plight of journalists Mohammad Taqi Siraj and Baseer Seerat, who have been abducted in the eastern province of Nuristan.

“While the Afghan media have played a key role in the preparations for these elections, they have been singled out for attack by Taliban groups and those linked to certain warlords,“ said Reporters Without Borders.

“If these attacks do not threaten the forthrightness with which the Afghan media has reported ahead of this historic poll, these outbreaks of intimidation threaten effective media coverage of voting in some Afghan regions,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

Armed men seized Mohammad Taqi Siraj, editor of the weekly Bamyan and assistant director for the Kabul Film Production Company, and Baseer Seerat, cameraman for the same broadcast company, in Wigal district in the Nuristan region on 15 September. They were snatched, along with a female local official while they were making a documentary for the Afghan women’s minister. A female election candidate, Hawa Alam, who is also a journalist, was injured during the kidnapping.

The kidnappers wore military uniforms but it is not known who they were or what their motives might have been.

Elsewhere henchmen for a local warlord in Jalalabad seized Ezatullah Zawab, correspondent in Nangarhar Province for Pajhwok Afghan News and editor of the local bi-monthly Meena on 2 September. He was found alive but unconscious six days later just outside the city.

At the beginning of September, the Nangarhar provincial governor summoned the correspondent in Jalalabad of an international station, who has asked not to be identified, and complained to him about a broadcast of a report on the murder of an election candidate and two police officers in the province.The governor suggested to the journalist that he could suffer the same fate as an Afghan reporter for the BBC World Service, Mirwais Jalil, who was murdered by the Mujahideen in 1994 - if he did not work to promote the interests of the local authorities. Another Jalalabad journalist, Noorullah Noori, was reportedly threatened with reprisals by the authorities.

At the same time, a journalist in Takhar, in the north of the country, was sacked from his job as a result of threats issued by a local warlord.

A reporter in Kabul with the Afghan Voice Agency (AVA), Salim Wahdat, was beaten and then detained on 8 September by members of the secret service Afghan national security agency while he was covering a ceremony organised by the Afghan education minister.

Another AVA journalist, Ruhullah Jalali, was held in a secret services cell after trying to visit his detained colleague. They were both released eight hours later and after the intervention of a representative of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists’ Association. Salim Wahdat said the secret service agents had accused him of taking photos for al-Qaeda.

In this country
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
21 April - Afghanistan
Emroz TV presenter freed on bail after being held because of complaint by Iran
24 March - Afghanistan
Authorities arrest two TV presenters in Kabul
10 March - Afghanistan
Journalist working with Canadian media, released five months ago by US military, gunned down in Kandahar
9 March - Afghanistan
Call for presidential pardon after supreme court upholds Perwiz Kambakhsh’s 20-year jail sentence for "blasphemy"

in the annual report
Afghanistan - Annual report 2008
Afghanistan - Annual report 2007
Afghanistan - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years