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Media Watchdog Demands Release Of Afghan Journalist Held By Taliban

WASHINGTON --- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has demanded that Taliban authorities immediately release Afghan journalist Khalid Qaderi and end arrests and prosecutions of members of the press for their work.

In a May 6 statement, the CPJ said a Taliban military court in the western city of Herat had sentenced Qaderi to a year in prison on charges of spreading anti-regime propaganda and committing espionage for foreign media outlets.

The CPJ cited news reports; a tweet by the journalist’s sister, Homaira Qaderi; and a local journalist who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal from the Taliban.

The local journalist said Qaderi did not have access to a lawyer and that Taliban authorities had forced him to sign a document agreeing not to appeal the verdict.

The CPJ said this is the organization’s "first documented instance of a journalist being tried, convicted, and sentenced for their work since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in August 2021."

CPJ said Qaderi is a reporter and producer of cultural programs for Radio Nawruz, an independent broadcaster in Herat Province.

“Taliban authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Khalid Qaderi, and ensure that members of the press are not imprisoned for their work,” CPJ Asia Coordinator Steven Butler said.

“Trying and convicting a journalist on vague charges using shoddy legal proceedings marks an ominous new phase in the Taliban’s crackdown on Afghanistan’s once-thriving independent media.”

Despite promising a softer version of their rule since returning to power, the Taliban has cracked down on journalists, critics of the regime, and women activists demanding rights to work and education.

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