IFJ Protests Over Arrest of Afghan Journalist and Expulsion of American Reporter in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over the arrest and expulsion of American freelance journalist, Eliza Griswold and arrest and secret detention of Afghan journalist, Sami Yousafzai. The IFJ, in a letter to the Government of Pakistan, has called for details of his arrest and location to be released immediately by the Government of Pakistan.



The IFJ has protested to the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, in the following letter:


5 May 2004


General Pervez Musharraf

President and Chief Executive of Pakistan

Via Email: CE@pak.gov.pk



Dear General Musharraf,


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over the arrest and holding of Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai and arrest and expulsion of American reporter, Eliza Griswold.


According to our information, on 21 April Griswold, freelance journalist and regular contributor to the New Yorker, and Yousafzai, regular stringer for Newsweek, were arrested with their driver at a checkpoint in Bakhakhel when attempting to enter North Waiziristan. Earlier the journalists had been turned back at the Jandola checkpoint and had not been allowed to enter the South Wasiristan tribal area.


According to a local official, the journalists were questioned and allowed to return to Peshawar, where they were rearrested by Pakistani security Forces or Intelligence Forces (ISI) near Bannu. Griswold was then expelled from Pakistan, however Yousafzai and his driver remain held in a secret location.


The IFJ is calling on the Pakistani authorities to provide information on the location of Yousafzai and his driver and details surrounding their arrest. The IFJ demands the release of both Yousafzai and his driver if in fact the reason for their arrest is for reporting in Pakistan’s tribal areas.


In addition, the IFJ calls on the Government of Pakistan to dismiss all charges brought against Pakistani freelance journalist Khawer Mehdi Rizvi. Rizvi was released on bail on 29 January. He was was formally charged on 24 January by Pakistani police with sedition, conspiracy and impersonation after being secretly detained by security forces since his initial arrest in Karachi on 16 December 2003.


The IFJ is deeply concerned over attempts by the Pakistani Government to control journalists’ access and coverage of the tribal areas of Pakistan and reminds the Government of Pakistan its duty and responsibility to maintain freedom of the press. Further the use of intimidation and illegal detention of journalists is in blatant disregard of these principles.



Yours sincerely,



Christopher Warren

President, IFJ



cc Federal Minister Information and Broadcasting

Mr. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

Via Email: infominister@infopak.gov.pk



Recommended action:


Send appeals:



  • Expressing concern over the arrest and expulsion of Eliza Griswold and arrest and detention of Sami Yousafzai


  • Urging the Government of Pakistan to release the location and details surrounding the arrest of Yousafzai


  • Expressing concern against the charges brought against Khawer Mehdi Rizvi.


  • Urging the Government of Pakistan to dismiss all charges.


  • Remind the Government of Pakistan to ensure press freedom and safety of all journalists in Pakistan.



    Appeals:


    General Pervez Musharraf

    President and Chief Executive of Pakistan

    Via Email: CE@pak.gov.pk


    Federal Minister Information and Broadcasting

    Sheikh Rashid Ahmed

    Via Email: infominister@infopak.gov.pk



    For more information please contact IFJ Asia at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au


    Please copy appeals to the IFJ Asia Office at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au