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Released after 16 months' military detention, journalist held another 30 days under police arrest

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ press release:

Pakistan journalist now under police arrest after 16 months' detention

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged the Pakistan government to release journalist Munir Mengal, who was just released from 16 months' military detention only to be put back in jail under a 30-day custody order.

According to reports, Mengal, the head of the Baloch Voice TV station, was released by intelligence agencies on August 6 but was arrested soon after by police in Qalat, in the southwestern province of Balochistan.

Mengal was allegedly arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.

"Holding Mengal in captivity with no legal justification is a serious violation to his human rights," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"This prison sentence is another telling blow for Mengal and his family, who have already suffered enough with him detained by the military for more than a year," Park said.

According to reports, Mengal had disappeared since April 4, 2006, after landing at Karachi international airport.

He went missing only three months before Baloch Voice TV, the first Baloch language television station, was due to air via satellite.

The IFJ maintains its view that the Balochistan region is one of the most dangerous areas for journalists to work in Pakistan.

"Balochistan is a region living in constant fear of capture by security officials," Park said.

"By releasing Mengal, the Pakistan government can send a strong positive message to the people of Balochistan and Pakistan, and start rebuilding their confidence in the power of democracy and a fair legal system."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries.

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