CPJ/IFEX) - In a 10 October 2001 letter to Northwest Frontier Province Governor Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, CPJ respectfully asked him to order the immediate release of Rifatullah Orakzai, a reporter for the Peshawar-based English-language newspaper "Khyber Mail"; Muhammad Iqbal Afridi, a district correspondent based in Bara, Khyber Agency, who contributes to the national Urdu-language daily "Al-Akhbar"; and Syed Karim, a stringer for the national Urdu-language daily "Khabrain".
On 5 October, authorities in Khyber Agency arrested the three, along with two French journalists working for the Paris-based television news channel LCI. The French journalists - Olivier Ravanello, a reporter, and Jérôme Marcantetti, a cameraman - were released without charge on 8 October after officials from the French embassy intervened. However, the local journalists remain jailed on the authority of the political agent of Khyber Agency, Fida Wazir.
Political agents exercise virtually unchecked power in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which include Khyber Agency, and have routinely used their authority to punish journalists for their reporting.
No charges have been filed against any of the three detained journalists, and CPJ believes, based on interviews with local sources, that the reporters were arrested merely for carrying out their professional duty.
Send appeals to the Northwest Frontier Province governor:
- urging him to use his good office to ensure that Orakzai, Afridi, and Karim are granted immediate and unconditional release
The Honorable Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah
Governor, Northwest Frontier Province
Fax: +92 91 921 0087
Please copy appeals to the source if possible.