Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Afghanistan 22 July 2002

Enquiry demanded into arbitrary detention by US of Pakistani journalist

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF) called on the US government today to investigate the arbitrary detention of a Pakistani journalist by US forces in Afghanistan and stressed that soldiers "must respect the rights of journalists, even in war zones." "As US forces continue to make blunders in Afghanistan regarding civilians, the arrest of Pakistani journalist Hayatullah Khan is another error in their dealings with journalists," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "If he was arbitrarily detained and ill-treated, the US government must compensate him."

Hayatullah Khan, correspondent for the Pakistani daily The Nation in Mir Ali (tribal zone in the North Waziristan Agency), was held by US troops for four days, along with his two guides and his driver, in the eastern Afghan province of Paktita. He told Reporters Without Borders that he had set out on 2 July to report on the activities of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The next day, he and his team went to a US camp to interview US officers, but as he was showing his ID and press card, he was arrested, handcuffed, and put in a dirty cell two metres square. Without water, with hands tied and blindfolded, he was interrogated by US and British officers who accused him of passing on information to terrorist organisations, notably Al-Qaeda, on the basis of names and phone numbers of Afghan and Pakistani religious leaders they found in his confiscated address book. He explained they were contacts he needed to do his job as a journalist in the region. "I kept denying their charges and repeatedly told them I was a professional journalist." At one point the soldiers told him he should be "ready to die."

After some of his colleagues and the Reporters Without Borders representative in Pakistan, Iqbal Khattak, had approached US diplomats in Peshawar and Khan’s status as a journalist was confirmed to his captors, he was freed on 7 July. But as soon as he reached the Pakistani border, he was detained for by Pakistani paramilitary forces who accused him of having given the Americans information about the Pakistani army’s movements. Khan has had kidney trouble since his total of five days of detention by both groups of soldiers.




In this country
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
21 April - Afghanistan
Emroz TV presenter freed on bail after being held because of complaint by Iran
24 March - Afghanistan
Authorities arrest two TV presenters in Kabul
10 March - Afghanistan
Journalist working with Canadian media, released five months ago by US military, gunned down in Kandahar
9 March - Afghanistan
Call for presidential pardon after supreme court upholds Perwiz Kambakhsh’s 20-year jail sentence for "blasphemy"

in the annual report
Afghanistan - Annual report 2008
Afghanistan - Annual report 2007
Afghanistan - Annual report 2006

reports
4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
archives

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years