The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement issue on Sunday afternoon confirmed the arrest of four Afghan journalists in southern Kandahar and said the four were detained over allegations of cooperating with the Taliban.
The four arrested were Bismillah Watandost, the head of Radio Millat Ghag, radio journalists Qudrat Sultani and Mohib Obaidi, and Sanaullah Siyam, the statement said.
The journalists, who were arrested on July 25, "met with Taliban leaders, including two members of Pakistan's intelligence agency, at the former residence of slain Kandahar police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq in Spin Boldak district and conducted an exclusive interview with them," according to the statement.
The NDS said that one of the reporters went to Taliban-held areas representing the Millat Ghag radio station, but this station is "illegal" and is not registered with the government.
The statement said that Sanaullah Siyam claimed to be a journalist working for China’s Xinhua news agency, but the news agency has denied this.
The NDS also said that the motive behind the visit and the interview was to "downplay crimes against humanity by the Taliban" in various provinces, especially in Spin Boldak.
The NDS added that the four journalists will be sent to judiciary offices and will follow the process under Afghanistan’s law.
The arrest of the four has sparked national and international debate.
“Whenever a reporter makes a mistake, the media violations commission should decide and approve that he has made a mistake and then he can be arrested,” said Samiullah Ghairatmal, head of the Nai office in Kandahar a day after the arrests were made.
Nai is an organization supporting open media in Afghanistan.
In the meantime, Amnesty International and other watchdog organizations also criticized the arrest and said it is in contravention of the law.