We are overjoyed to announce that our dear friend and PICT collaborator, award-winning journalist Mortaza Behboudi, has regained his freedom on 18 October 2023, after 284 days of detention by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban takeover in 2021, Mortaza had repeatedly traveled to Afghanistan in order to report on conditions in his country of origin for a variety of international media outlets. His journalistic work on Afghanistan was awarded the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents (twice) and the French National Daily Varenne Prize.
Mortaza was detained on 7 January 2023, two days after his latest entry into the country. He was being held at Pul-e-Charkhi Prison in Kabul at the time the Kabul Criminal Court acquitted him of all charges and ordered his release.
“Mortaza’s personality shone through even in the darkest of times,” commented Aleksandra Mostovaja, Mortaza’s wife, who led the support committee to secure his release, a committee which included PICT along with institutions such as Reporters Without Borders and Paris City Hall. “No one should suffer arbitrary detention or the pain of not knowing what happened to a loved one. I repeat: journalism is not a crime.”