Updated Feb 11, 2022 - World

Journalists working for UN released after being detained by Taliban

A UNHCR sign near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Photo: Saeed Ahmad /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A UNHCR sign near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Photo: Saeed Ahmad /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Two journalists and several Afghan nationals working with the UN refugee agency were released by the Taliban Friday, UNHCR said.

Why it matters: Journalists, especially local reporters, have faced increasing pressure, attacks and restrictions since the Taliban seized power last August, despite initial pledges by the group to respect independent media.

What they're saying: The UN refugee agency said earlier Friday that the two journalists and several Afghan nationals had been detained in Kabul.

  • "We are relieved to confirm the release in Kabul of the two journalists on assignment with UNHCR, and the Afghan nationals working with them," UNHCR said in a statement later Friday.
  • "We are grateful to all who expressed concern and offered help. We remain committed to the people of Afghanistan," the agency added.

The Taliban said that "foreign nationals who identified themselves with an international institution were detained because they did not have the necessary identity cards, licenses and documents."

  • The group did not specify who or how many people had been detained.

The big picture: The Taliban said last August that private media will "remain independent" but stressed journalists should not work against "national values and national unity."

  • Since then, however, there have been several reports that the Taliban have detained and attacked journalists and blocked at least one press conference on the state of the media in the country.
  • According to Afghanistan National Journalists, an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists, hundreds of media outlets have shut down and thousands of media professionals, particularly women, have lost their jobs since the Taliban took power.

Go deeper: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule, report finds

Editor's note: This story has been updated with details on the release of the journalists and Afghan nationals.

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