Another Taliban intelligence official accused her of “planning to provoke” the extremist group into arresting her or taking other action against her to stir up trouble.
O’Donnell had returned to Kabul on July 16 to see for herself how the Taliban regime has reshaped the country since the group regained power last August.
She was on the ground when the US-led invasion displaced the Taliban in 2001, and until the final hours before the group returned to power last year. She was also bureau chief for the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse between 2009 and 2017.
Before and immediately after the chaotic US and Western exit from Afghanistan, Taliban leaders claimed to have moderated since their first term in power in the 1990s.
The country has been plagued by economic, political and social turmoil since then, as many foreign donors left. Aid agencies have warned that millions face hunger and possibly starvation.
Meanwhile, the Taliban imposed draconian restrictions on the rights of women and girls, prohibiting them from working or leaving home without reason, and forcing them to wear universal burqas.
O’Donnell addressed her criticisms of the Taliban and their regime, in addition to how they treated her.
“They’re more brutal, they’re vengeful, they go after people by name, by categorization: journalist, women’s rights activist… They go after people,” she said in the interview. . “They weren’t like that last time.”
O’Donnell’s allegations have raised concerns among international press rights groups, with the Committee to Protect Journalists issuing a statement calling on the Taliban to end their “campaign of intimidation and abuse” against journalists in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“The Taliban should apologize to Lynne O’Donnell for her treatment in the country and allow all journalists to work without fear,” program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna said in a statement.
The episode also highlights the deteriorating state of press freedom in the country in the first year of the Taliban’s return to power.
“O’Donnell’s story suggests that it is going to be increasingly dangerous for journalists, especially female reporters, to cover human rights violations in Afghanistan, especially violations against women,” he said. said Karima Bennoune, visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School. and a former United Nations Special Rapporteur.
“The Taliban clearly have no understanding of freedom of expression, including for journalists, and believe they can prevent the dissemination of information about their gross abuses through coercion.”
A study on Afghanistan conducted by Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, in December found that a total of 231 media outlets have had to close, while more than 6,400 journalists have lost their jobs since August 15, 2021. Among women Afghan journalists, 4 out of 5 were no longer working.
A UN report earlier this month also revealed that six journalists were killed, five of them by self-identified militants of the Islamic State terrorist group and one by unknown persons.
“Over the past 10 months, RSF has recorded several abuses against foreign journalists, particularly in the first months after August 15. But this is the first time we have heard of arrests and threats of imprisonment or pressure to repent,” said RSF spokeswoman Pauline Adès. -Mevel said.