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DATE=5/8/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-249128 TITLE=PAK JOURNALIST ARREST (L) BYLINE=SCOTT ANGER DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: (RE-RUNNING; NO CHANGES) INTRO: PAKISTANI POLICE HAVE ARRESTED A PROMINENT NEWSPAPER EDITOR IN A CONTINUING CRACKDOWN ON JOURNALISTS WHO ARE CRITICAL OF THE GOVERNMENT. AS V-O-A CORRESPONDENT SCOTT ANGER REPORTS, THE ARREST COMES JUST DAYS AFTER A NEW YORK-BASED JOURNALIST'S RIGHTS GROUP ISSUED A LETTER TO THE PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT PROTESTING WHAT IT CALLS A CAMPAIGN OF INTIMIDATION AND HARASSMENT. TEXT: POLICE HAVE ARRESTED NAJAM SETHI, EDITOR OF THE ENGLISH-LANGUAGE WEEKLY -- THE FRIDAY TIMES -- WHICH HAS BEEN A SHARP CRITIC OF PRIME MINISTER NAWAZ SHARIF'S GOVERNMENT. MR. SETHI'S WIFE, JOURNALIST JUGNU MOHSIN, SAYS POLICE BROKE INTO THEIR BEDROOM EARLY SATURDAY MORNING TO ARREST HIM. ///MOHSIN ACT/// THEY CLUBBED HIM ON THE HANDS VERY SEVERELY, DRAGGED HIM OUT OF BED AND HIT HIM WITH THE CLUBS. I SAID, WHERE IS HIS WARRANT? AND HE (THE POLICE) SAID, YOU WANT A WARRANT, I'LL GIVE YOU HIS DEAD BODY IF YOU WANT A WARRANT. ///END ACT/// IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT FOLLOWING THE ARREST, THE GOVERNMENT SAID MR. SETHI IS SUSPECTED OF LINKS WITH INDIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENTS -- AND THAT HE WILL BE QUESTIONED ABOUT ANTI-PAKISTAN STATEMENTS HE ALLEGEDLY MADE DURING A RECENT VISIT TO INDIA. BUT MS. MOHSIN SAYS HER HUSBAND'S STATEMENTS HAVE BEEN TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT. SHE SAYS HIS SPEECH IN NEW DELHI WAS NO DIFFERENT THAN OTHER SPEECHES HE HAS MADE AROUND THE WORLD. RECENT EDITORIAL COLUMNS BY MR. SETHI IN THE FRIDAY TIMES HAVE ACCUSED PRIME MINISTER SHARIF AND HIS ACCOUNTABILITY CHIEF, SAIFUR REHMAN, OF DEFAULTING ON BANK LOANS WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. MS. MOHSIN SAYS SHE BELIEVES HER HUSBAND HAS BEEN ARRESTED BECAUSE HE WAS INTERVIEWED FOR A BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION TELEVISION DOCUMENTARY, WHICH IS PROFILING ALLEGED WRONG-DOINGS OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND HIS RELATIVES. ///MOHSIN ACT TWO/// /// OPT ACT /// I KNOW THAT MY HUSBAND WAS EXTENSIVELY INTERVIEWED BY THE B-B-C TEAM SINCE HE WAS CARETAKER MINISTER FOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE CARETAKER GOVERNMENT FROM 1996 TO 1997. I KNOW THAT HE GAVE THEM (B-B-C) AN EXTENSIVE INTERVIEW AND SINCE THAT DAY, FOR THE LAST 12 DAYS, WE HAVE RECEIVED THREAT AFTER THREAT (FROM THE GOVERNMENT). ///END ACT/// /// END OPT ACT /// /// OPT /// DURING AN INTERVIEW THURSDAY, MR. SETHI SAID THE GOVERNMENT FEARED HE HAD INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE OF DOCUMENTS DETAILING ALLEGED CORRUPTION BY PRIME MINISTER SHARIF AND HIS FAMILY -- AND THAT HE WOULD SHARE THOSE DOCUMENTS WITH THE B-B-C. BUT, HE SAYS, HE ONLY GAVE THE B-B-C INFORMATION WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN PUBLISHED IN HIS NEWSPAPER COLUMNS. /// END OPT /// MR. SETHI'S ARREST FOLLOWS A SERIES OF INCIDENTS INVOLVING JOURNALISTS CRITICAL OF THE GOVERNMENT. A WRITER FOR THE FRIDAY TIMES, M-A LODHI WAS RECENTLY DETAINED FOR TWO-DAYS FOLLOWING AN INTERVIEW HE GAVE TO THE B-B-C TELEVISION TEAM. /// OPT /// ALSO, COLUMNIST HUSSAIN HAQQANI, WHO WRITES FOR THE FRIDAY TIMES AND OTHER ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PUBLICATIONS, DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 24-HOURS LAST WEEK BEFORE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ACKNOWLEDGED HIS ARREST. HIS LAWYER SAYS NO FORMAL CHARGES HAVE BEEN BROUGHT AGAINST MR. HAQQANI, AND NO ONE OUTSIDE THE GOVERNMENT HAS SEEN HIM SINCE HIS ARREST. /// END OPT /// MALEEHA LODHI, AN EDITOR AT PAKISTAN'S LARGEST DAILY ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPER -- THE NEWS -- SAYS SHE FEARS THERE ARE DANGEROUS TIMES AHEAD FOR JOURNALISTS IN PAKISTAN WHO CRITICIZE THE GOVERNMENT. ///LODHI ACT/// THIS IS INTOLERANCE ACROSS THE BOARD. THIS IS NOT JUST INTOLERANCE OF STORIES SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THEM (THE GOVERNMENT). THIS IS INTOLERANCE ABOUT ANY TYPE OF CRITIQUE OF THE WAY THIS GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONS. CLEARLY, PAKISTAN IS MOVING TOWARDS A FASCIST DICTATORSHIP. MR. SHARIF IS FOLLOWING A RATHER UNSPECTACULAR TRADITION WHERE HE WANTS TO HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO OPPOSITION, NO DISSENT -- NO CRITICISM OF HIS GOVERNMENT. ///END ACT/// IN ITS LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER SHARIF, THE NEW YORK-BASED COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS SAYS IT IS ALARMED THAT SO MANY JOURNALISTS HAVE BEEN DETAINED, HARASSED AND ARRESTED IN RECENT DAYS. THE RIGHTS GROUP HAS CALLED FOR THE PRIME MINISTER TO TAKE ACTION TO STOP WHAT IT CALLS A WAVE OF GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED ATTACKS AGAINST THE NEWS MEDIA IN PAKISTAN. MEANWHILE, PAKISTAN'S FEDERAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS HAS CALLED FOR A DAY OF PROTEST IN THE COUNTRY NEXT WEEK (EDS: DATE UNCERTAIN) (SIGNED) NEB/SA/GE 08-May-99 11:16 AM EDT (1516 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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