Female Afghan Journalist Who Interviewed Taliban Leader Leaves Country on Qatar Air Force Flight

Beheshta Arghand, a woman journalist at TOLO news network who interviewed the Taliban spokesperson, has fled Afghanistan, citing dangers faced by journalists and citizens since the Taliban took over.

Arghand, 24, told CNN that she still felt it was dangerous for her in Afghanistan. She left on a Qatari Air Force evacuation flight on Tuesday with other members of her family, after several members of the media received intimidating messages from the Taliban.

Arghand Hopes to Return to Afghanistan

In an interview with CNN, she said, "I left the country because, like millions of people, I fear the Taliban."

However, she also said: "If the Taliban do what they said -- what they promised -- and the situation becomes better, and I know I am safe and there is no threat for me, I will go back to my country and I will work for my country. For my people."

She reached out to activist Malala Yousafzai, who she had previously interviewed, for help in leaving the country. Yousafzai survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2012.

Beheshta Arghand
Beheshta Arghand became the first female journalist to interview a Taliban spokesperson on live television. Twitter

Arghand Fled Afghanistan After a Historic Interview with a Taliban Spokesperson

Arghand became the first female journalist to interview a Taliban spokesperson Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad on live television. She conducted her groundbreaking interview on August 17, 2021. Given the 'horrifying memories' of the Taliban's impression of women during their last reign, a female anchor conducting an interview on live TV was a 'stunning' sight.

She told CNN she did the interview with Hemad "for Afghan women," but that it was difficult.

"I told myself, 'One of us must start ... If we stay in our houses or don't go to our offices, they will say the ladies don't want to work,' but I said to myself, 'Start working,'" Arghand told CNN. "And I said to the Taliban member, 'We want our rights. We want to work. We want - we must -be in society. This is our right.'"

Arghand's exact location is still not known. At present, there are no details available of the country in which she is staying.

Afghan Journalists Fear for Their Safety

In the last 20 years, Afghan women have built a career in the news media. The Taliban's return threatens their hard-earned professional success and fame.

Reports of attacks, harassment of journalists have emerged in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban despite the insurgent group's promise of a free press.

TOLO's owner, Saeed Mohseni, told CNN on Sunday that nearly every one of the station's "well known reporters and journalists have left. We have been working like crazy to replace them with new people."