US media companies seek help for Afghan journalists

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 18 2021 05:50 AM

The New York Times building is seen on June 30, 2020 in New York City.
The New York Times building is seen on June 30, 2020 in New York City. Johannes Eisele, AFP/file

American media outlets are urging the US administration to help protect Afghan journalists seeking to flee as the Taliban tighten their grip in the country.

The publishers of the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal sent a letter Monday to President Joe Biden seeking aid for Afghan journalists and their families who have been working for the US media organizations.

"For the past 20 years, brave Afghan colleagues have worked tirelessly to help The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal share news and information from the region with the global public," the letter said.

"Now, those colleagues and their families are trapped in Kabul, their lives in peril." 

The letter from Frederick Ryan of the Post, Almar Latour of the Wall Street Journal and A.G. Sulzberger of the New York Times urged the US administration to facilitate "protected access" to the US-controlled airport and safe passage out of the country for the journalists and their families. 

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists endorsed the plea and expressed concern for hundreds of Afghans who have been working for western media.

"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.

CPJ said it has "registered and vetted the cases of nearly 300 journalists who are attempting to reach safety," with hundreds more whose cases are under review. 

The group said it identified "45 high priority cases of Afghan journalists in which the threat from the Taliban is clear and imminent," including a number of female journalists "whose record of reporting on women's rights has exacerbated the risk."

Only a handful have been able to obtain US visas, according to the media rights group, which has called for emergency visas for journalists in similar situations.

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