Afghans who worked with British media during the conflict will be allowed to apply for special visas to escape Taliban reprisals, thanks to a cross-industry campaign.
According to The Times and Press Gazette, “exceptional cases” of Afghans under threat from the Taliban because of their involvement with UK journalists will be considered for sanctuary under the government’s Afghan relocations and assistance policy.
In response to an open letter published by a press and broadcast media “coalition” on Tuesday, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: “Your letter highlighted the threat faced by Afghan staff who have worked for your media organisations in Afghanistan, in particular the risk of reprisals they face from the Taliban from their association with the UK.
“We believe that journalists must not face threats, injuries or death from simply doing their job of reporting on the truth.”
According to the open letter’s signatories, reporters who “were committed to the vision” of a free media in Afghanistan are now at grave risk from rising violence as NATO powers leave the country.
A Taliban campaign of “targeted killings against reporters” has included those of Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Danish Siddiqui as well as Helmand-based reporter Elyas Dayee, who was a “vital contributor” in an area that saw major British military engagement.
The Taliban has also closed media outlets in the areas it controls, putting more journalists at risk.
The government provided similar asylum to armed forces translators in June, with the Daily Mail’s ‘Betrayal of the brave’ campaign highlighting their vulnerability since 2015.
The “coalition” of over 20 British media outlets included news brands from the press and broadcast media, as well as the National Union of Journalists and the non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders UK.