Afghan reporter detained after criticizing government

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s intelligence agency has detained a television journalist after he broadcast a program critical of the government, his channel said on Tuesday.

The political discussion program, called “The Truth”, was pulled off air half-way through on Sunday after private Ariana TV received a call from the National Directorate of Security (NDS), officials from the broadcaster said.

NDS agents later arrested the program’s presenter, Mohammad Nasir Fayaz, the officials said.

The issue was discussed in Monday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

“As we know, some of the media accuse and insult national personalities including ministers with baseless allegations and one of those was in ‘The Truth’ program presented by Mr. Nasir Fayaz,” the government said in a statement.

The government said Fayaz had insulted ministers.

“In the past, Mr. Fayaz demanded money from ministers and asked the minister of water and energy to ensure 24-hour electricity to his residence,” the statement said. “When his demand was rejected, he made such baseless accusations.”

Afghanistan is struggling to fight off the Taliban insurgency and at the same time meet the expectations of a public growing ever more impatient with the lack of development more than six years after the Islamist movement was toppled from power.

Power cuts affect the capital Kabul for much of the day while electricity is even rarer in other cities or near non-existent in most villages.

The government has arrested a number of reporters in recent years and rights groups say freedom the press, one of the few achievements since the end of Taliban rule, is now under threat.

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