CPJ Calls for Release of US Filmmaker & Afghan Producer Detained by Taliban in Kabul

Saturday, 08/20/2022

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on the Taliban to immediately release American journalist and independent filmmaker Ivor Shearer and Afghan producer Faizullah Faizbakhsh.

As per a report and sources who spoke to CPJ, Shearer and Faizbakhsh were filming in the Sherpur area of District 10 in Kabul on August 17, where a U.S. drone strike killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri earlier in August, when several security guards stopped them. The guards, then, called the Taliban intelligence and around 50 armed intelligence operatives arrived, who blindfolded Shearer and Faizbakhsh and transferred them to an unknown location, the journalists familiar with the case told CPJ.

Shearer and Faizbakhsh were questioned about their activities and their work permits, ID cards, and passports were checked and then confiscated along with their cellphones.

CPJ, while urging for cessation of detention of journalists, said, “The Taliban’s increasing pressure and escalating numbers of detentions of journalists and media workers, including the detention of American filmmaker Ivor Shearer and his Afghan colleague Faizullah Faizbakhsh, show the group’s utter lack of commitment to the principle of freedom of the press in Afghanistan.”

Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ Programme Director, added, “Taliban officials must immediately release Shearer and Faizbakhsh and stop their intimidation and pressure on the press in Afghanistan.”

CPJ has not been able to verify the reason for the detention of Shearer and Faizbakhsh or where they were being held. However, sources have informed CPJ of the constant summons Shearer got from the Taliban since he arrived in Kabul.

Shearer had arrived in Afghanistan in February to produce a documentary about the last 40 years of Afghanistan’s history. Faizbakhsh worked as a producer supporting international journalists in Afghanistan and was contracted by Shearer, according to the journalists familiar with the case.

Earlier too, Shearer had been summoned to the Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where ministry spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi questioned and asked him to present his past work, one of the journalists familiar with the case told CPJ. According to that source, Shearer was told that he was summoned because Taliban intelligence was suspicious of his presence in Kabul.

Then, several Taliban intelligence agents had visited a guest house where Shearer was staying in Kabul in July. They too had questioned him about his work and stay.

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