Taliban take off US-funded Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty

Taliban take off US-funded Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty

WASHINGTON: The Taliban removed from the airwaves of US-funded Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty's Afghanistan service on Thursday, but has vowed not to comply with the country's Islamist rulers.

Azadi, which means freedom broadcasts in Dari and Pashto, has been dedicated to providing educational programming for girls barred from school since the Taliban took over last year.

Abdul Haq Hammad, a Taliban information ministry official, wrote on Twitter that Azadi was taken off the air for non-compliance with journalist principles and one-sided coverage. Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, funded by the US Congress but editorially independent, confirmed that Azadi was taken off the AM and FM dials and vowed to expand efforts so Afghans can access the service through other means.

The Taliban's decision makes the decision more tragic, as a lifeline for tens of millions of Afghans, according to Jamie Fly, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty president.

RFE RL will not change our editorial line to accommodate Taliban demands in order to stay on the air. Fly said that the audiences make great efforts to find us.

Half of Afghans accessed Azadi content each week, according to a US government survey.

Azadi was set up after the United States toppled the Taliban regime after the Sep 11, 2001 attacks and closed its physical office after the Taliban returned to power last year due to the US pullout.

Azadi has been operating from outside Afghanistan, including through programs for girls from ages seven to 12 and coverage of the plight under the Taliban of women and girls and the LGBTQ community.