TOLOnews presenter Bahram Aman, who was arrested by the Islamic Emirate on Thursday evening, was freed this evening at 6 pm.
Khpulwak Sapai, director of TOLOnews, and Nafi Khaleeq, legal manager of Moby Group, were also arrested along with Aman after TOLOnews shared news regarding the prohibition of airing foreign drama series.
The order prohibiting the broadcast of foreign drama series was made by the Ministry of Vice and Virtue.
Sapai and Khaleeq were freed on Thursday evening after being interrogated, but Aman was freed this evening.
TOLOnews director Sapai said that as a media outlet TOLOnews does not want to disobey the government, but wants to spread news to the people.
“As a media outlet, our activities never have disobeyed the government, but have acted as a bridge between the government and the people. Our job is to communicate the information to the people. As such, our suggestion has always been that any issue related to media or TOLOnews should be shared with us via the Ministry of Information and Culture,” he said.
The arrest of the employees of TOLOnews sparked reactions inside and outside the country.
The UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Afghan Independent Journalists Association, Afghanistan Journalists Center, Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee and NAI, an organization supporting media in Afghanistan, said the arrest was in violation of freedom of speech principles and laws. These organizations urged the Islamic Emirate to put an end to such arbitrary arrests.
“UNAMA expresses its deep concern about the detentions of journalists and the ever increasing restrictions being placed on media in Afghanistan. Time for the Taliban to stop gagging and banning. Time for a constructive dialogue with the Afghan media community,” UNAMA said on Twitter.
HRW and RSF also said the detention of the TOLOnews staff shows that the Islamic Emirate is attempting to silence freedom of speech in Afghanistan.
The Afghan watchdog groups said the detention of TOLOnews employees was in violation of media law and also in clear contradiction of the Islamic Emirate’s stated commitment to media. “This situation not only creates concerns and worries for the Afghan media, but also reflects a very bad situation of Afghanistan outside the country,” said Hujatulllah Mujadedi, a member of the Organization of Media and Journalists of Afghanistan.
The intelligence department of the Islamic Emirate, referring to the arrest of Moby Group employees, said on Twitter: “Some media outlets were broadcasting content that damages our society’s religious sentiments and threatens our national security. The Islamic Emirate is committed to freedom of expression, but will not let anyone to step on Islam's sacred values under different names and threaten the people’s psychological comfort or our country’s national security.”
Previously, different international organizations raised concerns regarding the detention of reporters in Afghanistan.