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Journalist Noor Hassan abducted, questioned about interviews with internally displaced persons and Taliban spokesman

(PPF/IFEX) - Noor Hassan, a reporter for the Royal News television channel, was abducted on 8 February 2009 in Swat, the epicentre of fundamentalist militant insurgency in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP). He was released the next morning in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan.

Hassan told PPF that he, along with Royal TV reporter Mohammed Ilyas and cameraman Mohammed Abbas, were on assignment in Swat to interview people who had become internally displaced as a result of the ongoing hostilities.

As they were returning to their home base in Peshawar, the capital city of NWFP, eight to ten armed men in two cars intercepted them. They told Ilyas and Abbas to leave and abducted Hassan at gun point. They then blindfolded him and placed something on his face that made him lose consciousness.

When he regained consciousness, his abductors asked why he was interviewing internally displaced persons in Swat. They also asked who had given him permission to interview Muslim Khan, spokesman for the Taliban in Swat. The interview with Khan was aired on Royal TV last month.

His abductors did not assault or hurt him but they warned him not to release anything based on his interviews in Swat, and forced him to sign a statement to this effect. The next morning at around 9:30 a.m. (local time), he was dropped off in Islamabad.

The Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) and the Peshawar Press Club (PPC) strongly condemned the abduction and expressed concern over the increasing threats to the lives of journalists. In a statement, they said that the government should take prompt and effective measures to protect the profession.

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