Fears grow for photojournalist arrested by Taliban as executions resume

Taliban deny Morteza Samadi, 21, has been sentenced to death but family concerned for his safety after he was detained while covering women’s protests in Herat

Fears are growing for a photojournalist who has been detained by the Taliban for more than three weeks after being arrested while covering the women’s protests in Herat.

Morteza Samadi, 21, a freelance photographer, was one of several journalists who were arrested at street protests at the beginning of September. All were quickly released except Morteza, whose whereabouts is not known. Some of those detained in Kabul have alleged they were badly beaten and tortured.

Fears for Morteza have grown after the bodies of executed convicts were put on public display in Herat’s main squares – a draconian practice brought back by the Taliban. A veteran leader of the Taliban, Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, said in an interview with Associated Press that the new government will be bringing back executions, as well as amputations as punishment for petty crimes.

After rumours circulated online that Morteza had been sentenced to death, the Taliban released a statement denying he was about to be executed and said that they would release him after he had been cleared by “national security”. Morteza’s family has only been allowed a one-minute phone call with him since his arrest on 7 September and has not received any information about what he may be charged with.

Mustafa Samadi, Morteza’s brother, told the Guardian that the Taliban have not shared any details of where or in what conditions he is being held. The family said he was arrested after Taliban fighters stopped him while he was working and found images of the protests and social media posts on his phone.

Mustafa said: “I have [had] no news on my brother’s fate for three weeks.” The family believe he may have been charged with inciting protests. “My brother has not committed any crime and should not be sentenced to death. He should be released,” he said.

The Taliban’s treatment of journalists and their attacks on free speech since gaining control of Afghanistan has drawn criticism from across the world.

On 19 September, the government announced 11 rules that imposed severe restrictions on free speech in the country, laying the groundwork for the detention of journalists.

In a statement condemning the move, the International Federation of Journalists said: “The ‘regulations’ forbid journalists and media organisations from publishing or broadcasting stories ‘contrary to Islam’, insulting national figures or violating privacy … the rules do not provide operational definitions of the terms they contain and provide ample room for individual interpretation by the country’s Taliban regime.”

Contributors

Zahra Joya and Ruchi Kumar

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Greece will not be ‘gateway’ to Europe for Afghans fleeing Taliban, say officials
Athens calls for a united response, as refugees already in Lesbos hope their asylum claims will now be reconsidered

Katy Fallon

26, Aug, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘Please pray for me’: female reporter being hunted by the Taliban tells her story
A young female journalist describes the panic and fear of being forced into hiding as cities across Afghanistan fall

Anonymous

10, Aug, 2021 @1:22 PM

Article image
They stayed to fight the Taliban. Now the protesters are being hunted down
Women’s rights activists fear for their lives as Afghanistan’s new rulers infiltrate, detain, beat and torture groups of protesters

Zahra Nader and Amie Ferris-Rotman

04, Nov, 2021 @7:00 AM

Taliban threaten Afghan TV journalists with 'elimination'
It accuses two outlets of ‘disrespectful and hostile actions’ and propaganda

Roy Greenslade

14, Oct, 2015 @7:47 AM

Article image
Taliban’s return ‘a catastrophe’ for journalism in Afghanistan
Head of International Federation of Journalists says ‘future is black’ for 1,300 journalists still in country

Kim Willsher

14, Sep, 2021 @5:30 AM

Article image
‘We planted a seed’: the Afghan artists who painted for freedom
The Taliban has whitewashed Kabul’s political murals – and those who created them have fled into exile

Ruchi Kumar

23, Oct, 2021 @10:00 AM

Article image
‘A haven for free-thinkers’: Pakistan creatives mourn loss of progressive arts space
‘Tragic’ closure of Sabeen Mahmud’s community venue T2F in Karachi comes as PM Imran Khan accused of fostering censorship and intolerance

Shah Meer Baloch in Karachi

24, Jun, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
UK accused of stranding vulnerable refugees after Brexit
Exclusive: Torture survivors and lone children stuck in Greece and Italy after Home Office ‘deliberately’ ends cooperation on family reunions

Harriet Grant and Katy Fallon

27, Apr, 2021 @11:25 AM

Article image
Sex workers fighting for human rights among world’s most ‘at risk activists’
Exclusive: Front Line Defenders report says rights defenders working in sex industry face ‘targeted attacks’ around the world

Sarah Johnson

12, Aug, 2021 @6:30 AM

Article image
Taliban denies targeting media after 50th journalist dies in Afghanistan
Rising violence by militants raises fears for press freedom after US troops withdraw in May

Stefanie Glinski in Kabul

03, Dec, 2020 @7:45 AM