Taliban free popular Afghan professor critical of government

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban have released a popular university professor and outspoken critic of successive Afghan governments who was arrested over the weekend, a family member said Tuesday.

Hasina Jalal, Faizullah Jalal’s daughter, said her father was freed from Taliban custody. The group had accused him of “nonsense remarks on social media, which were provoking people against the government and playing with people’s dignity.”

Jalal had been detained Sunday by the Taliban’s intelligence arm. TOLO TV, Afghanistan’s largest station on which Jalal was a frequent commentator, tweeted that Jalal was arrested “reportedly for making allegations against government departments, a security source said.”

After Jalal’s detention, he received an outpouring of support on social media, with many users posting Jalal’s photos. A small group of women protested in Kabul, demanding his release.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August ahead of America’s chaotic Aug. 31 departure after nearly 20 years of war. The Islamic militant guerrillas-turned-rulers previously held power from 1996-2001.

Afghanistan faces a major humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning that 90% of the country’s 38 million people are in dire need. The arrest of a prominent political activist threatened to complicate humanitarian aid efforts.

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