U.N. and U.S. raise concern over reports of Afghan journalist arrests

Kabul, March 18 (Reuters) – The United Nations and the United States said there were credible reports of journalists from local Afghan media organisation Tolo News being detained this week and that attacks on independent media must stop.

A Taliban administration spokesman and a spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry did not respond to a request to confirm if they were behind the reported arrests.

“Deepening concern tonight in Afghanistan over credible reports of further arbitrary detentions by the Taliban of Tolonews reporters,” the U.N.’s mission to Afghanistan said on Twitter late on Thursday. It urged the release of people taken away by gunmen and said intimidation of independent media should end.

Tolo News said in a tweet that its television presenter Bahram Aman was in the custody of Taliban officials “without any explanation”. It added that two other mployees had also been detained on Thursday evening but since released.

Ian McCary, charge d’affaires for the U.S. embassy, which is currently operating out of Qatar, said the United States had urged the Taliban to stop detentions and intimidation of media.

A source at Tolo News, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told Reuters the three employees had been taken by several intelligence officers from Tolo’s newsroom on Thursday evening around 7:30 p.m. The detained included the head of news, who was outside the office at the time but told to return to face the authorities, the source said.

The Taliban has said in some of the cases they are investigating the disappearances and that they have an amnesty for any previous opponents.

Reporting by Kabul Newsroom and Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Tim Ahmann
U.N. and U.S. raise concern over reports of Afghan journalist arrests