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Pakistan 17 December 2004

Herald senior assistant editor harassed by Military Intelligence officers

Reporters Without Borders wrote to President Pervez Musharraf today asking him to get the Pakistan’s Military Intelligence services to stop harassing Amir Mir, the senior assistant editor of the monthly Herald.

Irked by his articles about them, the Military Intelligence agencies have been using various methods to monitor and intimidate him, including visits to his home, phone calls and intercepting his e-mail.

"Putting pressure on a journalist in an attempt to dissuade him from covering sensitive subjects is completely unacceptable," the letter to Musharraf said.

Two plain-clothes Military Intelligence officers, Liaqat Ali and Shabbir Ahmed, went to Mir’s home in Faisal, near Lahore (in the north-eastern province of Punjab) on 24 November at the behest of their superior, Zaheeruddin Ahmed.

They told Mir they had come to talk about his articles. "You should better consult me before writing on sensitive issues," Ali said, giving his mobile number to Mir. Then, to intimidate him, Ali reminded him that his car was torched by unidentified arsonists exactly a year ago.

Two hours later, Mir received a phone call from Ali warning him not to tell anyone about the visit. When Mir replied that he had already told several newspapers, Ali rebuked him for not "acting responsibly."

For the past week, Mir has noticed that people are managing to get into his e-mail and read both his incoming and outgoing messages. He has changed his e-mail address three times since this began, but each time the problem has recurred. He told Reporters Without Borders he suspected Military Intelligence.

Mir has written about the Military Intelligence agency known as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). A magazine that is distributed throughout Pakistan, the Herald is known for its independent editorial line and its reporting on such sensitive issues as Pakistan’s Kashmir, fundamentalism and other political developments involving the army.

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