IFJ Protests Arrest of French Journalists in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is calling for the immediate release of French journalists, Marc Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, and their colleague, local freelance journalist, Khawer Mehdi Rizvi, all of whom are currently being held in detention by Pakistani authorities.

According to our information, Marc Epstein, photographer, and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, journalist, both of well-known French weekly publication L’Express, were arrested in Karachi on 16 December by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for violating regulations governing the visit of foreigners to Pakistan, in particular by visiting Quetta without valid permits.

Local journalist Khawer Mehdi Rizvi, who was assisting the pair and who also works for an English daily in Islamabad, has also been arrested, however his whereabouts is unknown. The IFJ understands that Rizvi did not require permission to visit Quetta.

Epstein was awarded the Diplomatic Press Prize in 2001 for a report he and Rizvi produced on the situation in Pakistan's western tribal areas.

According to the IFJ affiliate in Pakistan, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the foreign journalists are professional journalists who arrived in Pakistan through the correct channels on press visas. However, in view of Pakistani regulations, they did not obtain permission to go to Quetta.

The PFUJ notes with concern that while Epstein and Guilloteau are in jail, the FIA is refusing to divulge any information regarding the whereabouts of Rizvi, which the PFUJ and IFJ brand a brazen violation of basic human rights. The PFUJ is also concerned that Rizvi’s mysterious disappearance reinforces the suspicion that he is being subjected to maltreatment through traditional use of torture.

The IFJ calls the Government of Pakistan to release the three journalists immediately and demonstrate its commitment to press freedom by allowing the free movement and free reporting by all journalists in Pakistan.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Warren
President, IFJ