Pakistan journalist released after denouncement of kidnapping

Islamabad, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- A journalist in Pakistan critical of the country’s powerful Army was released 12 hours after being kidnapped that had led to strong criticism and denouncements from human rights organizations and press freedom groups.

The journalist Matiullah Jan was last seen in front of the school where his wife teaches in the capital city of Islamabad on Tuesday morning before being kidnapped.

“We are relieved to see that @Matiullahjan919 has been released. He should never have been deprived of his liberty in the first place,” Amnesty International said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Another journalist, Azaz Syed, tweeted a picture with Jan after his release a little before midnight.

A CCTV surveillance video shared by journalists on social media showed a group of men, several of them in uniform and armed, arriving in three cars and taking away Jan with them.

The reporter’s kidnapping led to quick reactions from different quarters, including the government.

“We will try to find out where he is and how he can be recovered. This is the responsibility of the government and it will fulfill it,” Information Minister Shibli Faraz said at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, and the nonprofits Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Amnesty, denounced the kidnapping and urged the government to take appropriate measures.

Moreover, several diplomats from western countries based in Islamabad expressed concern over the incident.

Jan has been known to be very critical of the government led by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In 2018, he stepped down from his position as presenter on the Waqt News network, and since then he ran a YouTube channel in which he often criticized the army.

Pakistan is a dangerous country for local journalists. Reporters Without Borders placed it at 145 out of a total of 180 in its 2020 press freedom index rankings.

According to the Freedom Network, an organization that monitors the state of journalism in Pakistan, there were a total 91 attacks on journalists between May 2019 and April 2020.

These included seven deaths, 12 attempted murders, two abductions, nine arrests by state bodies, 10 physical assaults, 23 threats, 10 cases of censorship and eight court cases against reporters.

Last week, the Supreme Court opened a contempt case against Jan over a tweet criticizing members of the judiciary. EFE-EPA


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