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Pakistan 25 June 2002

Journalist arrested in Quetta


Police in Quetta are still refusing to drop charges against journalist Rashid Butt. However, it has been learned that the chief of police file charges, on 14 June, against Mr. Shahghasi, managing editor of the Urdu-language daily Bakhabar, that Rashid Butt works for. Journalists in Quetta are still refusing to cover police activities, and have begun a series of public demonstrations.


Rashid Butt was released the 3 June, in the evening. Local journalists are intervening with the authorities to obtain the lift of his charges.


Reporters Without Borders has protested to the Balochistan Provincial Governor, Amir Ul Mulk Mengal, about the arrest of journalist Rashid Butt. "By arresting a journalist for reporting on their failure to act, the security forces have not chosen the best means of demonstrating their competence", says Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders. The organisation which defends press freedom has called for the journalist to be released without delay and for the First Information Report filed against him to be withdrawn.

According to information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, Rashid Butt, a reporter for the local daily papers Bakhabar and Lashkar, was arrested at his office in Quetta (the capital of the province of Balochistan in the south-west of the country) on 1 June 2002. According to a colleague, he was taken into custody under articles 500, 501 and 502 of the criminal code and article 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order Act (MPO). A First Information Report has been filed against him. Quetta’s Chief of Police, Abid Ali, stated in the local press that the journalist had been arrested for "writing an article against law-enforcing agencies", which he criticised for their incompetence in dealing with the problems experienced by the province in maintaining public order. "He has tried to create panic by publishing a baseless article", the Chief of Police added. The arrest has been strongly condemned by journalists in Quetta, in particular the Balochistan Union of Journalists.

Reporters Without Borders wishes to draw attention to the fact that the British journalist of Indian origin, Amardeep Bassey, and his two guides who were arrested on 10 May 2002, are still being detained in a cell in Khyber House, the seat of the representative of the Federal Government responsible for the Khyber tribal area, in Peshawar.

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