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Journalists arrested, held for more than five hours after Taliban press conference

(RSF/IFEX) - At least 15 Pakistani journalists returning from a press conference held by Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud in the Orakzai tribal region in the north-west were arrested by the military on 26 November 2008.

They were held for more than five hours at a check-point near Kohat, 60 km south of Peshawar, by security forces who prevented them from continuing their journey "for security reasons", one of the arrested journalists, Shaukat Khattak, of the satellite news channel Samaa TV, told Reporters Without Borders.

The security forces told the journalists that it was too dangerous for them to take the road from Kohat to Peshawar. The journalists and their cameramen were only released at around midnight (local time).

The arrests appear to have been carried out by the military authorities to prevent or delay broadcasts of the interview with the Taliban leader. They did not, however, seize any video tapes.

Hakeemullah Mehsud is one of the right-hand men of the Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, whom the government says ordered the 2007 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

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