As the United States and other countries accelerate efforts to get Afghan allies out of the country, Afghan journalists employed by foreign news organizations are facing a more perilous route to safety from the Taliban, and some have been killed.
Despite assurances of amnesty by the regime, a growing number of reports indicate that Taliban are searching for Afghan reporters and in some cases targeting them or members or their families.
The German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Thursday that Taliban soldiers who were searching for one of their reporters had killed one member of his family and severely injured another.
“The Taliban are obviously conducting organized searches for journalists in Kabul and provinces,” the director of Deutsche Welle, Peter Limbourg, said in a statement. “Time is running out.”
The broadcaster, along with several other leading German media outlets, urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to help them secure passage out of Afghanistan for its employees and their families.
“This letter is a cry for help,” the outlets wrote in an open letter this week. “The lives of our local staff are in acute danger.”
Last week, Amdullah Hamdard, 33, who learned English as a teenager and translated for U.S. Special Forces — they gave him the nickname “Huggy Bear” — had spent the last four years working with Die Zeit newspaper. He was murdered by Taliban fighters on the street near his home in Jalalabad, the paper reported.
In recent days, the publishers of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post banded together on evacuation efforts for staff members and their families. Security personnel and editors shared information on morning calls. The publishers called on the Biden administration to help facilitate the passage of their Afghan colleagues, and discussions ensued with officials at the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department.
This week, the first local employees of the three organizations flew out of the country after days of delays. For a group of 128 people from The Times, a breakthrough came when Qatar, a country with ties to both Afghanistan and the United States, agreed to help get them to safety.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesman, told a gathering of reporters on Tuesday that media outlets “can continue to be free and independent,” although he that added “Islamic values should be taken into account.”
But on Thursday, Taliban fighters beat two Afghan journalists while violently dispersing a protest in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based watchdog group, noted other attacks against journalists in recent days, including the fatal shooting on Aug. 9 of a radio station manager in Kabul, and the kidnapping of a reporter in Helmand Province. Afghan press freedom groups blamed the Taliban for both incidents.
An American journalist, Wesley Morgan, tweeted this week that the Taliban had searched the house of an Afghan interpreter he worked with. The interpreter, who was not at home, watched the search unfold on security footage sent to an app on his phone, Mr. Morgan said.
The director general of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, called on the Taliban to uphold their promises of protecting journalists and a free press. The organization has helped develop Afghanistan’s media over the past 20 years, including journalism education and gender-sensitive reporting.
“UNESCO urges that the important progress made should not be undone and in particular that women journalists must be able to continue their crucial work,” Ms. Azoulay said.