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"Guardian" journalist assaulted by police

(PPF/IFEX) - Waqar Kiani, 32, a Pakistan-based correspondent for the British newspaper "The Guardian", was assaulted allegedly by police in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, on 18 June 2011. He was attacked five days after a news report was published in "The Guardian" and other newspapers about abduction and torture by suspected Pakistani intelligence agents in July 2008 in Islamabad.

Kiani told Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that he was on his way home from Islamabad on the night of 18 June when some policemen in a police van ordered him to stop and get out of the car so that they could search the vehicle. As the journalist stepped out of the car, four police officers started beating him with sticks and a rubber whip. "They said 'You want to be a hero? We'll make you a hero.' We're going to make an example of you'," the journalist said. Kiani received injuries on his face and back and was transferred to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) by rescue services, where he was given medical aid.

According to press reports, "The Guardian" had recently published a report in which it had said that "in 2008 Kiani was abducted, blindfolded, beaten and burned with cigarettes. The ordeal ended 15 hours later when his abductors dumped him 120 miles from Islamabad, warning they would rape his wife and post the video on YouTube if he told anyone." The newspaper said Kiani had been working on a story about the illegal detention and torture of Islamist militants by Pakistani intelligence in collaboration with British intelligence. His research led him to an office of the Intelligence Bureau, the main civilian spy agency.

Kiani also told PPF that he believed that there are two reasons for the recent attack: the first is the report published in local and international newspapers, some days ago, about his abduction and beating by Pakistani intelligence agencies in July 2008, while the second is his recent interviews on local TV channels in which he criticized the state of journalism in the country and also talked about the 2008 attack.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered a judicial inquiry by a magistrate and a police inquiry. He said that he has acted without delay and the investigation has began without any issue.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists condemned the attack, demanding the government ensure security for journalists at all costs.

The Islamabad Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Tahir Alam, however asserted that preliminary investigations show that no police personnel or vehicle was involved in the incident.

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