French-Afghan journalist Mortaza Behboudi, held in detention since January in Afghanistan, was freed after charges against him were dropped, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday.

“The Taliban judiciary have ordered the release of journalist Mortaza Behboudi. The decision has just come through after 284 days of imprisonment,” RSF said in a statement to AFP.

All charges, including espionage and illegal support for foreigners, were thrown out at a criminal court hearing in Kabul, the press freedom NGO said.

He was due to return to France by the end of the week. “With the liberation of Mortaza, light has returned to my world and life can start again,” said his wife, Aleksandra Mostovaja, in the RSF statement.

Originally from Afghanistan, Behboudi, 29, became a refugee in Iran with his parents before returning to his home country to work as a photojournalist with multiple French outlets. He became a refugee in France in 2015 where he set up a news site, Guiti News, with other exiles from Afghanistan.

He returned to the country on a journalistic assignment on January 5 only to be arrested two days later while waiting for his press accreditation. It was not his first trip since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in 2021 — he had won awards for a reportage for Mediapart carried out the following year.


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2023-10-19

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