Photojournalist detained in Taliban for 23 days released in fear of death sentence

A 21-year-old best friend confirmed in an interview with The Epoch Times that a photojournalist detained by the Taliban for 23 days was released after reporting a woman’s protest against a terrorist group.

Freelance photographer Morteza Samadi, 21, was arrested by the Taliban on September 7. Covered the protest In the western city of Herat.According to a fellow freelance photojournalist, he Massoud Hossaini, Islamic terrorist groups have been accused of “spying” and encouraging people on his Facebook page to confront the Taliban.

Samadi’s friend Elias, a pseudonym used for safety, told the Epoch Times that she was released late Thursday after spending more than three weeks in a Taliban detention center. He said he learned of his release during a call with Samadhi.

The news of his release releases the photographer following increasing pressure from the international community on the Taliban amid widespread reports that he was sentenced to death. The Taliban immediately dismissed those rumors in a statement.

“For 23 days, his family couldn’t talk to him. A journalist who met Samadi at college three years ago said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan on condition of anonymity, fearing retaliation from the Taliban. I told the time report.

The US Nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement late Thursday welcoming the news.

“The CPJ welcomes the release of photojournalist Morteza Samadi from the Taliban’s detention facility. He should not have been detained in the first place. The CPJ stops targeting journalist jobs in the Taliban. “I repeat the call,” said the New York-based organization. Written on twitter..

Elias opposes the Taliban’s public story of arresting a photojournalist, and Samadi has long been on the group’s radar for his previous work before the terrorist group took control of Kabul on August 15. He said he believed he was there.

“I think he covered the protests, not just because of the protests, partly because they arrested him and planned to arrest him … but the main reason is that he fell into Kabul. Comes from the fact that it covered the battle of Iraq before Kabul. “

Mr. Samadi said he had previously photographed Ahmad Shah Massoud, the son of former Mujahideen commander, under the Afghan Defense Force, also known as the Afghan Defense Security Force (ANDSF). According to Elias, he posted these images on Facebook.

“So the Taliban knew this for a long time … I think that’s also why they were looking for him.”

“The’spy’is just a Taliban story,” he added. “I’ve known him for the last three years. If he were a spy, he would be very rich and not poor with a small camera.”

Elias told The Epoch Times that his best friend believed he was released only because of rising international pressure and a backlash following rumors of the death penalty. Report from a local news agency..

“I was happy, I couldn’t believe it,” he said of Samadi’s release. “But how they [Taliban] I suddenly changed my mind. “

The Taliban co-founder Mullah Nooruddin Turabi announced last month that radical groups would resume executions and amputations, similar to the practices under the administration more than 20 years ago.

“they [Samadi‚Äôs family] I couldn’t even meet him or talk on the phone, and there was no guarantee that he was alive.So they have always executed people because we have known the Taliban from the past [though] They have announced an amnesty and are beginning to kill people, “Elias said.

Local witnesses and residents last month Told to foreign media The Taliban hung the bodies of four people in a public square in western Afghanistan. “The purpose of this action is to warn all criminals that they are unsafe,” a Taliban member told The Associated Press.

“I couldn’t trust them [Taliban]..I knew something was happening to him [Samadi]But if there was no reaction to release Mortezah from the media or hashtags, I think they had already killed him, “said Elias, who knows at this stage if his friends were hurt by the Taliban. He added that. While he is in custody.

Journalist Taliban Repression

Elias, who has been trying to get a visa to escape the country for weeks, said he was upset by the trials and worried about his life. A few hours before talking to The Epoch Times, he said someone knocked on the door of the house and left immediately.

He said it was not clear if the individual was a member of the Taliban, but terrorist groups made door-to-door visits for those on their wanted list and they killed their relatives. Don’t surrender in the midst of reports of threatening to hurt you.

“It really shook my whole body,” he said, highlighting the dangers and difficulties that local Afghan journalists are currently facing under the Taliban’s control. He said the majority of Afghan journalists are now hiding without income and are afraid of retaliation from the Taliban for their pre-acquisition work.

Elias said she was offered a temporary position in the US press on Wednesday, but fears retaliation from the Taliban.

“I’m very worried about this and whether to accept it, but I’m telling myself because I don’t have enough money and there’s no way out. This is the only thing I can do. Accept, just I just work. “

He told the Epoch Times that the Taliban recently adopted a three-tiered warning “strategy” to tell journalists to stop reporting on “something they oppose.”

“On that first day, I’ll send you a warning message that you need to resign and stop reporting … but the second and third times you just give a warning, you could attack your house and be decapitated in front of your family. There is, “he says. Said. “It’s like what happened to many journalists … they just come down to your house.”

Elias said the day after Mortezah was arrested, he began deleting previous posts on Twitter, which could be a potential target.

“Western countries and other countries do not give visas to Afghan journalists … journalists in Afghanistan are short of money, but they do not issue them even in the nearest countries like Pakistan. I can’t get out [a] Visa, “he said.

“You feel lonely, hiding, and you can’t trust someone outside your home … it’s like I have. The Taliban may kill you in your home.” Elias added.

Isabelle van Brugen

Isabelle van Brugen



Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter for The Epoch Times. She holds a master’s degree in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.