CPJ: U.S. Must Do More for Afghan Journalists

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The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on the U.S. government to do more to protect hundreds of Afghan journalists who could be in danger as the Taliban take over control of the country.

CPJ said that includes ensuring safe passage out of the country and the emergency visas that will be needed. 

"CPJ is deeply concerned for the safety of hundreds of local journalists and media workers who could be targeted by the emerging Taliban regime," the group said Monday (Aug. 16).

The U.S. withdrawal of troops has been a vacuum quickly filled by Taliban fighters, with the capital, Kabul, falling in a matter of days as the U.S. tries to get Americans and endangered Afghans to safety.

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“The United States has a special responsibility to Afghan journalists who created a thriving and vibrant information space and covered events in their country for international media,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon in a statement. “The Biden administration can and should do all within its power to protect press freedom and stand up for the rights of the vulnerable Afghan reporters, photographers, and media workers.”

CPJ pointed out that Afghan journalists working with the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times had been unable to get a flight out of the country and have called on the Biden Administration to do more to make sure they get out safely.

CPJ pointed out that it has long called for emergency visas for journalists to avoid the need for "improvised responses."

CPJ said it has vetted 45 "high priority" cases--among nearly 300 journalists seeking to leave--involving clear and imminent threat from the Taliban. "Because of the deteriorating security situation at the airport," CPJ said, "only a handful have been able to board a flight to the U.S. or a third country where their visa requests can begin being processed. The vast majority of threatened journalists remain in hiding."

It said another 127 journalists face significant risks. Then there are the 119 affiliated with U.S. news organizations. That does not count family members, CPJ said, adding that it has gotten almost 500 e-mails in the last 24 hours with requests for assistance.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.