US filmmaker and Afghan producer detained by Taliban: report

US filmmaker and Afghan producer detained by Taliban: report

New York:

A New York-based media watchdog has called on the Taliban to immediately release American freelance journalist and filmmaker Ivor Shearer and Afghan producer Faizullah Faizbakhsh and stop detaining journalists.

On August 17, Shearer and Faizbakhsh were filming in the Sherpur area of ​​District 10 in Kabul – where a US drone strike killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri earlier in August – when several security guards approached them. arrested, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Voice of America-Dari, a congressional-funded broadcaster, and two journalists familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing fears of retaliation from the Taliban.

“The guards interrogated them about their activities and checked their work permits, identity cards and passports; they then confiscated the journalists’ mobile phones, detained them for a few hours and repeatedly called them ” American spies,” according to journalists familiar with the case,” CPJ said.

The security agents then called Taliban intelligence; About 50 armed intelligence officers arrived, who blindfolded Shearer and Faizbakhsh and transferred them to an unknown location, reporters familiar with the matter said.

“The growing pressure from the Taliban and the increasing number of detentions of journalists and media workers, including the detention of American filmmaker Ivor Shearer and his Afghan colleague Faizullah Faizbakhsh, show the group’s complete lack of commitment to the principle of freedom of the press in Afghanistan,” he added. said CPJ program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna. “Taliban leaders must immediately release Shearer and Faizbakhsh and stop their intimidation and pressure on the press in Afghanistan.”

In February 2022, Shearer arrived in Afghanistan on a one-month visa after receiving a work permit from the Taliban Foreign Ministry to shoot a documentary about the past 40 years of Afghan history, reporters said. close to the file.

Shearer’s film and video work has been shown in the United States and abroad at museums and film festivals. Faizbakhsh works as a producer supporting international journalists in Afghanistan and was hired by Shearer, according to reporters familiar with the matter.

On March 3, Shearer was issued a one-year work permit by the Taliban’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and was able to extend his visa to stay until September.

In mid-June, Shearer was summoned to the Taliban’s Foreign Ministry, where ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi questioned him and asked him to present his past work, CPJ told CPJ. one of the journalists familiar with the case.

According to this source, Shearer was summoned because Taliban intelligence suspected his presence in Kabul.

In mid-July, several Taliban intelligence agents came to a guesthouse where Shearer was staying in Kabul and questioned him about his work and stay, according to a reporter familiar with the matter, who added that Shearer does not didn’t know if the visit was routine. or if he was targeted because of his presence.

On August 16, Balkhi summoned Shearer again, a journalist familiar with the case told CPJ.

Shearer told the source he was concerned about the summons and did not know whether the Taliban would extend his visa beyond September or deport him from the country. CPJ was unable to confirm further details of the August 16 meeting.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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