Award-winning refugee journalist, photographer, and PICT contributor Mortaza Behboudi has been detained and imprisoned by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan since 8 January 2023. His imprisonment was publicly announced on 6 February 2023 after a month of efforts to secure his freedom; we have joined Reporters Without Borders and other organizations in a support committee working for the safe and immediate release of our dear friend.
Born in Afghanistan in 1994, Mortaza first became a refugee when he was 2 years old, when his family had to flee to neighboring Iran. In 2012, Mortaza returned to Afghanistan, where he got his Bachelor’s degree and began his journalistic career before once again having to flee, in 2014, after being targeted for his work. Literally homeless upon his arrival as a refugee in Paris, Mortaza has since forged a remarkable career, working for media outlets including France Télévisions, TV5 Monde, Arte, Radio France, Mediapart, Libération, and La Croix.
Mortaza is widely noted for his coverage of the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece, where he was the only journalist reporting in person during the COVID lockdowns of 2020. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, he has been reporting on his native country, including the report series Across Afghanistan under the Taliban, published by Mediapart, and the report “Young Afghan girls sold in order to survive,” broadcast by France 2. His work on Afghanistan has been awarded the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents (twice) and the French National Daily Varenne Prize.
An early supporter of PICT, Mortaza was the first ever guest on PICT Voices, our flagship podcast, where he reported on the inhuman living conditions at the Moria refugee camp in early 2020. Mortaza revisited Moria after a major fire devastated the camp in 2021, leading to another PICT Voices episode. He also joined us for the second podcast episode of The Last Ottoman, where he spoke on ethnic diversity and political disintegration in Afghanistan, as well as writing and photographing the travel/environmental piece, “One Day, We May Dream Greenland,” for The Faculty Lounge.
Above and beyond all else, Mortaza is a person of deep character and conscience who has made it his life’s work to alert the world to people, places, and plights that we ignore at our own peril. We cannot wait for the day he is returned to us safe and sound.