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News agency editor's son kidnapped

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders supports a request by Shakil Turabi, the editor-in-chief of the Islamabad-based South Asian News Agency (SANA), for the authorities to carry out a rapid and thorough investigation into his 18-year-old son's disappearance since 5 January 2010.

Turabi believes that military intelligence agencies were involved in abducting his son, Hasan Sharjeel. He received a letter in June purporting to come from the kidnappers, who indicated they wanted a ransom. But the details given in the letter for establishing contact turned out not to be credible.

"Regardless of the identity of the abductors and their motives, the facts of this tragic case need to be established without delay," Reporters Without Borders said. "The accusations that Turabi has made against certain sectors of the army are so serious that the army chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, needs to intervene."

After months of pleading with the military authorities to release his son, Turabi managed to get the case referred to the Pakistani supreme court, which ordered the interior ministry to intercede.

Turabi told Reporters Without Borders: "It is because of my articles. In the past, I was kidnapped and then attacked. Now it is my son's turn to be attacked. And so they have had him abducted." He said sources within the army have told him that his son is being held by a Pakistani intelligence agency.

Turabi said the grounds for holding his son were his alleged links with an armed group implicated in an attack on a mosque in which senior military officers and their family members were killed. In a TV interview, Turabi said: "I am 99 per cent sure that Hasan is innocent, but if he really was involved in illegal activity, let him be tried and hanged."

Turabi has been pressing the Islamabad police to seek his son's release, if he is innocent, or to have him brought to trial if he is alleged to have done something illegal.

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