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Journalist arrested, detained overnight for questioning by intelligence personnel

(PPF/IFEX) - Dilawar Jan, a reporter in the Peshawar bureau of the daily "The News", was picked up by intelligence agency personnel from his office on the evening of 28 April 2009 in a bid to force him to disclose the source of news filed by him about an impending military operation in Buner. He was released on the morning of 29 April after refusing to be pressured into disclosing his source.

Jan told PPF that three personnel of an intelligence agency came to "The News" Peshawar office around 7:00 p.m. (local time) and started questioning him about the source of a news item which he had filed about a military operation in Buner. Jan said that when he refused to disclose the source, the agency personnel took him to their office and interrogated him about the source of the news. He said he told them that as a responsible journalist it would be unethical to identify his source. After some time, they blind-folded him and transferred him to another place for further interrogation, but he stuck to his position. Jan said that they did threaten him, but did not torture him. "Ultimately, they left me near my office," he said.

After one hour of Jan's detention, two of his journalist colleagues, Bukhar Shah and Mushtaq Yusufzai, went to the intelligence agency office to seek Jan's release. The agency personnel demanded that they disclose the name of Jan's news source, but they also refused. After waiting there until past midnight, they returned unsuccessfully.

The group editor of "The News", Shaheen Sehbai, has in a statement urged the security officials and the army not to target journalists if they cannot keep their operations a secret. They should look inwards and stop information leaks in their system, instead of victimizing media persons. He said Jan had done nothing unprofessional or irresponsible.

On 29 April, a meeting held at the Peshawar Press Club attended by members of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Khyber Union of Journalists (KHUJ) strongly condemned the harassment of the journalist.

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