Photo by Alexandre Requintel
When My Husband Was Imprisoned by the Taliban
by Aleksandra Mostovaja (Copenhagen, Denmark)
ON the 7th of January, 2023, my husband, Mortaza Behboudi, was imprisoned by the Taliban for his journalistic work in Afghanistan. He was accused of spying, without any evidence presented. On that day, my peaceful life as an architecture student came to an end; I became the wife of a prisoner, one whom I had no way of contacting. I stepped into the role of a campaigner, a journalist, a public speaker, and an activist who has to maneuver through complex diplomatic processes.
I have gained the ability to stop time, put my life on hold, and push my identity aside as my entire self becomes devoted to getting my husband out of prison. Time has become my enemy as every second morphs into an eternity. I keep thinking of what Mortaza would do in my place and try to do the same: Raise hell on earth.
Mortaza is undoubtedly the bravest and kindest person I know. He has an extraordinary capacity to care deeply for others and do his best to help them, even if it means putting his own life in danger. The amount of people who have been helped by Mortaza and who have reached out to me offering help with his case has been overwhelming and humbling. I am deeply grateful for all the support and all the beautiful stories about him that people have shared with me. A friend told me how Mortaza once left the stage in the middle of presenting his own film to take a phone call from an Afghan journalist because she was in danger. Such stories could only be about Mortaza, because that is the person I truly know him to be.
In 2019, Mortaza was the only journalist reporting from inside the largest European refugee camp, called Moria at the time, situated on Lesvos, Greece. He spent half a year undercover in Moria to produce the documentary, Moria, a Living Hell, which would expose the dire conditions refugees faced in the camp. His activities led to him being threatened by Greek politicians and ultimately having to seek help from a human rights organization, RSF (Reporters Without Borders).
Despite all the danger that comes with his work, Mortaza has never stopped covering difficult subjects. When I asked him why he puts himself at risk to report from Afghanistan, he told me he could not live comfortably in the safety of Europe knowing people suffered in so many places. He knows he can make a difference, and that makes him unable to stop. Now, after giving a voice to so many who were silenced, he is unable to speak. We must be his voice. I urge us all to stand by my husband, Mortaza Behboudi, and to share his story so that he can come home as soon as possible.