The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is relieved at news of missing television journalists Mukesh Rupeta and Sanjay Kumar, but remains concerned for their health and just treatment, and the legitimacy of the charges brought against them.
“The IFJ is pleased by reports that Rupeta and Kumar have been released on bail and have been in contact with their families, however we demand the authorities withdraw all charges against them and instigate a full inquiry into their illegal detention and as to why these journalists are in such bad health,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
Rupeta, a Geo News correspondent in Jacobad, Sindh, and Kumar, a freelance cameraman, reportedly disappeared on March 6 this year.
According to a spokesperson from Geo News, Pakistani authorities reported that the two were detained for videoing the Jacobabad airbase, in Sindh.
Nothing more was heard from them by their employers or family until June 22, when their arrest was officially announced, reports IFJ affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).
The journalists have reportedly been charged under the Official Secrets Act and with producing false documents. Both journalists appeared in court on June 23 and have been released on bail.
The court also ordered that the pair be admitted to hospital because of their deteriorating health.
Rupeta’s condition shocked journalists and alarmed his mother, who fainted outside the courtroom after seeing her son, the PFUJ reports.
“We are relieved to learn that Rupeta and Kumar are alive and receiving treatment,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren, “but these men have been imprisoned for nearly four months, without charge by their own government.”
“Rupeta’s medical condition raises serious questions about his treatment, and the Pakistani authorities’ apparent impunity in this matter is a worrying threat to press freedom.”
The IFJ supports the PFUJ’s calls for all charges against the pair to be dropped immediately and for a full investigation into their treatment while detained.
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries