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Reporter believed to be held by army after being kidnapped by Taliban

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders urges the Pakistani authorities to explain what has happened to Mohammad Rasheed, a freelance reporter who is probably being held by the army. It is believed he was arrested after being held for several days by a Taliban group in North Waziristan. "I don't know where he is; his entire family is very worried," his wife told Reporters Without Borders.

"The authorities must quickly say what they know about the possible detention of this journalist, whose only apparent 'crime' is to have been kidnapped by the Taliban," Reporters Without Borders said. "By detaining him in this manner, the army is exposing him to new dangers as he could be accused of being an informant. This is not the first time the army and intelligence services have acted in this way, and it is unacceptable."

Rasheed, who is from Rawalpindi, was apparently arrested by Pakistani soldiers after being released by the Taliban at the army checkpoint in Mirzael, in the Bannu region, on 4 January 2010. Military personnel told his wife he would "soon be at home again."

When Reporters Without Borders contacted Pakistani army spokesman Athar Abbas on 5 and 7 January, he said he "heard" about the Rasheed case.

His wife has appealed to the journalistic community to support her efforts to get him freed. The last phone call she received from him was on 28 December, when he was still being held by the Taliban.

The Taliban announced they were holding Rasheed on 29 December 2009, two days after he was seized by gunmen while filming in the market in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, which is part of the Tribal Areas. Journalists based in the Tribal Areas negotiated his release with the Taliban group led by Hafiz Gul Bahadar.

The Taliban in North Waziristan have banned all journalists who are not from the area. Journalists are suspected of being spies and face possible execution. The army, for its part, is also obstructing the work of foreign and Pakistani journalists in the Tribal Areas, especially South Waziristan.

Another journalist, Rehmatullah Shaheen of the Baloch "Daily Tawar" newspaper, was held incommunicado by the police from 8 to 15 December in the southwestern province of Balochistan. He is still detained. At least two other journalists are currently detained in Pakistan.
Video on the difficulties for journalists in the Peshawar region

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