Taliban shut down two newspaper websites in Afghanistan

The ruling Taliban’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology has shut down the websites of Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News alleging that the two websites were propagating “false propaganda” against the Taliban, according to a tweet from the ministry’s spokesperson Anayatullah Alokozay. The two media platforms had been active on domain names registered in Afghanistan.

The Hasht-e Subh daily and Zawia News sites operated by Afghan journalists who have been reporting from exile since the August 2021 Taliban takeover, said in separate statements on October 3 that the Taliban had deactivated their website domain names.

Hasht-e Subh Daily has since resumed operations online under a different domain name. Zawia News said it would continue to report on the website of its parent company, Zawia Media.

The committee to protect Journalists CPJ has condemned the closure of the two websites. “The Taliban must restore full online access to Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi in Frankfurt, Germany said. “More than ever, Afghans and the world need to know what is happening in Afghanistan. The Taliban must stop suppressing the media.”

Hasht-e Subh Daily, an award-winning newspaper that has operated in Afghanistan since 2007, moved its operations entirely online after the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan last year. It has nearly 2.75 million combined followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Zawia News is part of Zawia Media, which describes itself as a “pioneer” of digital media in Afghanistan and covers “untold realities” about the country, according to its website.

Media in Afghanistan, especially women journalists are suffering and have to self-censor their reports. Dozens of local journalists have left Afghanistan and work from other countries.

In August 2022, CPJ published a special report about the media crisis in Afghanistan that shows a rapid deterioration in press freedom over the last year, marked by censorship, arrests, assaults, and restrictions on women journalists.