The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today joined with Italian journalists in launching an urgent appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, who is reportedly being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“Whoever is holding Daniele must release him quickly and unconditionally,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “It is absurd to hear suggestions that he is being held because he is a spy – he is working as a journalist, covering an important assignment as a media professional. His capture affects the entire community of journalists both in the region and worldwide and that is why we say he must be freed immediately.”
Mastrogiacomo is a correspondent for Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, which said it last had contact with him on Sunday. The Taliban told the Associated Press on Wednesday that it was holding the reporter and two Afghan men who were travelling with him.
The IFJ is working with its Italian affiliate the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana to ensure Mastrogiacomo’s release unharmed.
“Daniele and his two Afghan colleagues should not be held as pawns in the conflict in Afghanistan,” White said. “Journalists are considered civilians by the United Nations and protected by international law.”
This the second Italian journalist to be kidnapped in recent months in Afghanistan. Photographer Gabriele Torsello was kidnapped in October and released almost a month later.
The IFJ is calling on Italian and Afghan governments and coalition forces in the country to search for Mastrogiacomo and the two Afghans who were with him. It is also calling on its members in the region to press for their colleagues’ release.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide