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Pakistan 27 October 2006

Missing journalist was tortured while held by military intelligence for four months

Reporters Without Borders today said it was relieved by the release of Pakistani journalist Mehruddin Marri but “outraged by the torture inflicted on him by the army during his detention.” Marri had been missing since his abduction on 27 June in the southern province of Sindh.

“These methods seem to have become the army’s preferred tool for scaring journalists suspected of links with the Baluch movement,” the press freedom organisation said, calling for a thorough investigation into the kidnapping.

Marri, who works for the Sindhi-language daily Kawish, was able to return home after being released by military intelligence officers on 24 October. In an interview for the BBC World Service’s Urdu-language service, he said he was arrested by police in Thatta and then handed over to the army. Thereafter, he was taken to an unidentified location and interrogated by military personnel, above all about his family ties with Baluch leaders.

“I was beaten and given electric shocks, and I fainted,” he said. “Then they prevented me from sleeping for three nights. I had to stand up in the middle of a room and when I fell down, someone would come in and wake me.” The military tried to make him confess to links with the Baluch nationalist movement. Before being released, a military officer told him: “Never oppose the state and the secret services.”

Munir Mengal, one of the founders of the Baluchi-language TV station Baloch Voice, is still missing since being kidnapped on 7 April.

12 July 2006

Journalist missing in Sindh province after being summoned to police station

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the fate of Pakistani journalist Mehruddin Marri, who was reported missing on 27 June in the southern province of Sindh. Several local sources said the intelligence services could be responsible for his disappearance.

“This case is one of a series of very disturbing kidnappings of journalists in Pakistan,” the press freedom organisation said. “We call on the authorities to do everything possible to find Marri as quickly as possible in order to dispel any suspicions about the possible role of the police in his abduction.”

Marri, who works for the Sindhi-language daily Kawish, went to a police station in Thatta on 27 June in response to a summons. His family claims he was kidnapped by the police as he was returning from the police station. The police deny playing any part in his disappearance.

The president and secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists fear Marri was abducted by the intelligence services and have urged the authorities to use legal means to prosecute him if they think he has broken any law.

Marri is the fifth journalist to be kidnapped in Pakistan since last December. Hayatullah Khan was found dead six months after he was abducted. Mukesh Rupeta and Sanjay Kumer were held illegally by the Pakistani intelligence services for more than three months. Munir Mengal has been missing since 7 April.

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