The Peshawar high court has ordered the federal and provincial authorities to charge Afghani journalist Sami Yousafzai and his driver, Mohamed Salim, by 8 June or to give reasons to justify their arrest. During the hearing, a Peshawar police representative denied having any information about the detention of Yousoufzai, who works for Newsweek.
In response to the refusal of the authorities to confirm that they are detaining Yousafzai and Salim, judge Dost Muhammad Khan asked them why they did not produce the two men in court if they had not committed any crime.
Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai, detained secretly in Peshawar since 21 April 2004, has been transferred to the Miranshah detention centre in the tribal area of North Waziristan, in the north-west of the country.
The authorities have given no reason for the transfer nor even confirmed his arrest, but Reporters Without Borders said it feared it would mean he could be tried under the special Frontier Crimes Regulations, under which he is unlikely to get a fair trial. The organisation repeated its call for his release.
The authorities have continued to refuse Yousafzai visits from his family and there is still no news of his taxi driver, Mohamed Salim.
Lawyer Kamran Arif made a Habeas Corpus request to the Peshawar High Court on 13 May on behalf of the journalist’s mother. Maintaining that the life and liberty of Yousafzai and Salim were at stake, Arif asked the court to rule within two days.
If his request is accepted, Yousafzai will be brought before the judges who will rule on the legality of his detention. The lawyer also called for the two detainees not to be removed from the jurisdiction of the High Court.
Journalists organisations in Afghanistan have been campaigning for Yousafzai. On 10 May at a meeting organised by the Afghan Center for Promotion of Communication (ACPC) in Kabul, journalists urged the Pakistani authorities to immediately free their colleague.
They accused the authorities of double standards since the American journalist Eliza Griswold, who was arrested with him, was released while the Afghan reporter was secretly detained. The largest Afghan journalists’ organisation also put out a statement calling for his release.
Pakistani security forces have been holding Yusafzai since 21 April. He was arrested in the Pakistani tribal areas while working with his US colleague Griswold, who was expelled from the country.