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Taliban Releases TV Station Director

Aref Nouri

The Taliban has released the director of an Afghan television station two days after he was detained, the Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) monitoring group said on December 28.

Aref Nouri, the director of the private Nourin television network, was detained at his home in Kabul on December 26 for unspecified reasons.

AFJC said in a statement it "condemns the arbitrary detention" of Nouri as an "infringement of press freedom."

Nouri's son, Roman Nouri, told RFE/RL that Taliban security forces searched the family's home without an arrest warrant before taking his father to an unknown location. It was also unclear why Nouri was detained.

The Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) quoted a Taliban government spokesman as saying the detention was not related to Nouri's media activities.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had called for Nouri's release.

"The detention of media owner Aref Nouri by a Taliban-affiliated militia marks a serious attack on the independent media in Afghanistan," CPJ Asia coordinator Steven Butler said. "Taliban authorities should immediately release Nouri and stop intimidating independent voices in Afghanistan."

Nourin TV is known for its coverage of security issues and sympathy with the opposition Jamiat-e Islami party.

The Taliban, which employed a strict interpretation of Islamic Shari'a law during its last stint in power from 1996-2001, retook power in Kabul in mid-August, prompting concerns about the future of free media and human rights in the country.

Last week, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and AIJA released a joint survey finding 43 percent of media outlets have closed and 60 percent of journalists are no longer able to work since the Taliban took control of the country. The media landscape is now "largely devoid of women journalists" after 84 percent of female media employees lost their jobs, the media rights groups found.

Hundreds of journalists have left Afghanistan over the past four months fearing reprisals or because of the impossibility of continuing to practice their profession. There have also been reports of media workers being detained, harassed, or attacked.

In addition to harassment by the Taliban, media outlets have been badly hit by a loss of advertising revenue and a halt in national and international funding.

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