CPJ urges authorities to release French journalist Aziz Zemouri

New York, October 12, 2001—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about the detention of Aziz Zemouri, a reporter for the French weekly Figaro Magazine.

On October 11, Pakistan’s border security forces arrested Zemouri at Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan Agency, according to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. A French Foreign Ministry spokesperson told CPJ that authorities in Peshawar are currently holding the journalist for interrogation, though no charges have been filed.

French foreign minister Hubert Védrine called his Pakistani counterpart, Abdul Sattar, on Friday, October 12, and asked him to facilitate Zemouri’s release.

Védrine also asked the Pakistani foreign minister to intervene with the Taliban on behalf of French journalist Michel Peyrard, whom Taliban officials arrested on October 9 and charged with espionage on October 10 after he tried to enter Afghanistan dressed in a head-to-toe burqa gown. [See CPJ alert]

“CPJ urges Pakistani officials to release Aziz Zemouri immediately,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “While we understand Pakistan’s interest in securing the sensitive border area with Afghanistan at this time, we also hope that journalists seeking to report on matters of international concern will not be treated as criminals.”