Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Pakistan 13 January 2004

State continues to lie about detaining Pakistani journalist
Authorities deny holding Khawar Mehdi Rizvi despite statements by President Pervez Musharraf

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) has expressed deep shock after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) again denied before two judges at the Sindh High Court that it was holding Pakistani journalist Khawar Mehdi Rizvi in custody.

The deputy director of the FIA Sarwar Khan, as well as the deputy prosecutor for Pakistan, made the denial on 13 January in response to a habeas corpus petition lodged earlier by the lawyer for Rizvi’s family, Abid Saqi. However both Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and the foreign ministry spokesman have recently said that the journalist was being held for "investigation", said Reporters Without Borders.

French journalists for the weekly L’Express, Marc Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau who were working with Rizvi on a report on the Taliban at the Afghan border saw a six-month jail term cut to a fine on 12 January and were free to leave the country.

The international press freedom organisation said it was very shocked at the obvious flouting of the law. On one hand the highest authorities said the security services were holding the journalist for "investigation", while on the other the courts had no access to the person detained nor to his file, it said.

As the two judges in Karachi said on 13 January, it is offensive to see a Pakistani journalist held in secret while his French colleagues are released and allowed to leave the country. The judges said they were very displeased with the response from the authorities and called on the federal government to appear before them on 20 January and explain Rizvi’s situation and the official reasons for his detention. The international press freedom organisation also fears that Rizvi has been subjected to maltreatment since his arrest.

Speaking about Rizvi to the press on 12 January in Islamabad, the foreign ministry spokesman said of him, "He is not a poor chap. We found a faked report on him and the investigation is going on."

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf personally cast doubt on the professional qualities of Rizvi on 29 December. He told representatives of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society: "This freelance journalist has done terrible harm to the national interest in making this fake film on the taliban and for only 2,000 dollars. If he had come to me I would have been able to give him 3,000 dollars not to make this film."

Rizvi, a freelance journalist who regularly works with foreign journalists, is supported by the French newspapers Le Monde and Libération, French TV channels TF1 and France 2, and US newspapers The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune.

Epstein and Guilloteau meanwhile have had their passports returned and were due to leave Karachi on 13 January. Epstein told Agence France-Presse, "I am very worried about Khawar because we have no news of him."

The three journalists were arrested on 16 December 2003 in Karachi just after completing a report on taliban groups at the border with Afghanistan.

In this country
26 May - Pakistan
Video on plight of Swat valley journalists
26 May - Pakistan
Joint open letter from the IFJ and RSF to the President regarding threats made against journalists
15 May - Pakistan
Emergency funds for journalists who have had to flee Swat valley fighting
12 May - Pakistan
Journalists flee Swat valley en masse
6 May - Pakistan
Media in danger in Swat valley

in the annual report
Pakistan - Annual report 2007
Pakistan - Annual report 2006

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

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 - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
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