Afghan Journalists Arrested, Punished by Taliban While Covering Protests

Afghan journalists were arrested and punished by the Taliban for covering a protest Tuesday outside the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, witnesses and Afghan media outlets said, according to the Associated Press.

An Afghan journalist who was arrested and later freed told the AP he had been punished by the Taliban for covering the protest, which demonstrators said was to denounce Pakistan's alleged interference in Afghanistan.

"They made me rub my nose on the ground and apologize for covering the protest," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears for his safety. "Journalism in Afghanistan is getting harder."

Afghanistan's TOLOnews TV channel said its cameraman Wahid Ahmadi had also been arrested. Demands for the Taliban to release the arrested journalists have been posted on social media.

Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan last month, its members have reportedly threatened and beaten journalists, the AP said. German broadcaster Deutsche Welle said Taliban fighters went door to door searching for one of its journalists. One member of his family was fatally shot and another injured.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Afghan Journalist Killed
Since taking control of Afghanistan last month, there have been reports that the Taliban have beaten and threatened journalists. Above, in Kandahar province on May 6, relatives carry a coffin with the body of television journalist Nemat Rawan after he was shot dead by gunmen. Javed Tanveer/AFP via Getty Images

Taliban Allows Afghans With Valid Visas, Passports to Leave Country

On Tuesday, a Taliban official at the city's international airport said Afghans with valid visas and passports stranded in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and waiting to take chartered evacuation flights out of the country will be allowed to leave.

Mawlawi Hafiz Mansour said the majority of Afghans waiting to take one of four evacuation flights have neither valid visas nor passports. The Taliban have said only Afghans with passports and valid visas would be allowed to leave.

Mansour did not provide a breakdown of the numbers of those with valid documents and those without.

Speaking from Qatar, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said the Taliban have given assurances of safe passage for all seeking to leave Afghanistan with proper travel documents. He said the United States would hold the Taliban to that pledge.

The U.S. is under pressure to help the remaining Americans and green card holders leave Afghanistan, and it has promised to work with the Taliban to do that.

Blinken Says U.S. Working With Taliban on Evacuation Flights

Blinken says the State Department is working with the Taliban to facilitate additional charter flights from Kabul for people seeking to leave Afghanistan after the American military and diplomatic departure.

Blinken was speaking on Tuesday at a joint news conference with Qatar's top diplomats and defense officials. He said the U.S. has been in contact with the Taliban "in recent hours" to work out arrangements for additional charter flights from the Afghan capital.

Blinken said the Taliban have given assurances of safe passage for all seeking to leave Afghanistan with proper travel documents. He said the United States would hold the Taliban to that pledge.

Blinken said the United States believes there are "somewhere around 100" American citizens still in Afghanistan who want to leave. The State Department had previously put that estimate at between 100 and 200.

Blinken and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are in Qatar to thank the Gulf Arab state for its help with the transit of tens of thousands of people evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15.

Antony Blinken in Qatar
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Qatari leaders to thank the nation for its support in the Afghanistan evacuation efforts and to discuss the future of U.S.-Afghanistan relations. Above, Blinken, right, arrives at Old Doha Airport in Qatar's capital on Monday. Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP