News - Afghanistan
The National Security Council (NSC) reportedly summoned a number of members of the press to their offices over the past month and accused them of administering Kabul Taxi – a popular, satirical Facebook news page that is run by an anonymous person.
The Facebook page has garnered more than 30,000 Likes in just three months and takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to issues of the day including local politics, warlords, corrupt officials and bureaucratic aides.
The NSC media office says however that the Facebook page was operating in contravention of the country's laws by using an unknown address and by trying to unveil secret government information.
The NSC in an statement said that it respects the principles of freedom of expression and access to information, and requests relevant agencies to ascertain the identities of the individual(s) who violated the guidelines of media use set out by the laws of the country in order to prevent further breach of information.
The NSC said it reaffirms its strong commitment to further strengthening freedom of expression and access to information, and believes that free press keeps people informed and maintains responsibility in governance.
But Mujib Khelwatgar, Head of Nai – a non-government agency supporting open media in Afghanistan – said such acts by the National Unity Government (NUG) puts a damper on the achievements made in freedom of speech over the past 14 years.
"The attempt by the NSC and in particular by Mr. Hanif Atmar – National Security Advisor – should be prevented; otherwise the past 14 years achievements in freedom of speech in Afghanistan will be deterred," Khelwatgar told TOLOnews.
He termed limitations on freedom of speech as signs of a lack of trust on the part of the NUG leaders in terms of freedom of speech and citizens' rights.
"On one hand, the president passed the Access to Information Law while on the other hand he limited access to information. These two antithetical acts reveal that political elites in the NUG don't trust freedom of expression, citizens' rights, and freedom of the press."
He urged the government to ensure journalists' safety in order to safeguard their achievements and to help maintain the public's trust in the media.