IFJ Deeply Concerned over Kidnapping of Pakistani Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed deep concern over the kidnapping on Pakistani journalist Hayatullah Khan, whose status and location remain unknown.

“This is censorship in its extreme,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“The Pakistan Government and local authorities must act immediately to ensure the security of journalists, particularly Khan who must be located whilst there is still a chance for his safe return,” said Warren.

On Monday December 6, 2005, Khan a reporter for the Urdu language daily Ausuf and photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) was kidnapped by masked assailants near North Wazirston, just 24 hours after the murder of journalist Nasir Afridi, who was working in the same tribal area bordering Afghanistan.

“Hayatullah Khan’s kidnapping, following the brutal murder of Pakistani journalist Nasir Afridi further highlights the safety crisis in Pakistan and throughout the region,” said Warren.

Khan was on his way to Khajoori in Nord Waziristan (250 km southwest of Islamabad) to cover a student demonstration when five people armed with AK-47 assault rifles reportedly stoped his vehicle and took him away in another vehicle.

Since Khan’s abduction there has been no information made available regarding his location or his safety status. His family are waiting for news.

It is alleged that the kidnapping was in relation to Khan’s report on the account of the killing of senior Al Qaeda militant on December 1, which cast doubt on the official version of events and raised sensitive issues regarding the US military’s involvement in the fight against terrorism in Pakistan.

On Sunday December 5 Nasir Afridi the president of Darra Adam Press Club and journalist for a daily Urdu language newspaper was killed by a stray bullet from a battle going on between the Bazi Khel and the Mala Khel tribes, whilst driving to Northern Pakistan.

The IFJ has expressed concern about for the kidnapping of Khan and the murder of Afridi and has called on the authorities to launch a full investigation into both attacks.

“Safety continues to be the biggest issue facing journalists in South Asia, with an increase in number of journalists being killed, attacks and kidnappings occurring across the region,” said Warren.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries