The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation, today called on Pakistan to make a clear statement on the whereabouts and safety of Amardeep Bassey, an award winning British journalist reportedly being held by Pakistani security officials on spy charges.
Bassey, a journalist for the Sunday Mercury in Britain was apparently arrested four days ago when he tried to return to Pakistan from Afghanistan where he had been reporting on the war-torn nation from the capital Kabul. He was detained in the border town of Torkham when the authorities examined his passport and noted that he did not have the required exit stamp on his visa. The journalist has an Indian background.
"We are very concerned about the whereabouts and safety of Amardeep Bassey" said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. "We are particularly worried about suggestions that he is accused of espionage and we fear that he may be the latest victim in the continued targeting of journalists in this region." The IFJ is calling for an urgent statement of the Pakistan government to reassure the family, friends and colleagues of Bassey that he is safe.
Because the Pakistani authorities have not admitted to holding the journalist he has had no access to either lawyers or consular assistance.
"Given the tension in the region and the difficult atmosphere in relations between India and Pakistan we need immediate assurances that our colleague Bassey is safe and well" said Aidan White. The IFJ has given its full backing to the NUJ in Great Britain and Ireland which has taken up the case with the British government and it has asked the EU foreign affairs officials Javier Solana and Commissioner Chris Patten to intervene as well.