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Pakistan 16 May 2006

Government urged to explain disappearance of reporter Hayatullah Khan

Reporters Without Borders has called on the Pakistani government to explain the disappearance of Hayatullah Khan, journalist on the Urdu-language daily Ausaf and the European Press Photo Agency (EPA), who was kidnapped on 5 December 2005 in Mir Ali, North Waziristan.

The press freedom organisation said it noted the statement by a US diplomat on 10 May 2006 that the United States was not implicated in the disappearance.

“Following the statement by the United States we again call on the Pakistani government, and particularly its federal information minister, Muhammad Ali Durrani, to explain the disappearance of Hayatullah Khan and to mobilise all the necessary resources to resolve this case which has gone on too long”, it said.

“We urge Muhammad Ali Durrani to mark his start in the government with a strong signal, by providing detailed information about the journalist,” it added.

US Consul in Peshawar, Mike Spangler, said on 10 May that the United States had “read the reports on the disappearance of Hayatullah Khan (...), but is not in possession of any information about him.”

The journalist was on his way to Khajoori in North Waziristan to cover a student demonstration on 5 December 2005, when five men armed with AK-47s stopped his vehicle and bundled him into another car.

A few days earlier, the journalist had investigated the circumstances of the death of an Arab head of al-Qaeda, Hamza Rabia. The Pakistani Army had said that the jihadist had been killed with four other people in an accidental munitions explosion at the home of a man named as Mohammad Siddiq - who turned out to be the journalist’s uncle.

Hayatullah Khan had contradicted the military report, saying that Rabia had been killed by an American missile and supported his claim with photographs taken at the scene of the incident. Villagers who heard the explosion also backed up the version of an attack by a drone or plane.

Reporters Without Borders is backing the campaign by the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) which has been actively trying to find Khan since December 2005.




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