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A security official looks through binoculars from the roof of the High Court in Islamabad, April 12, 2013 (Reuters/Milan Kursheed)

Pakistani security forces harass journalist, despite court order

May 26, 2017 4:02 PM ET

New York, May 26, 2017--Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency should stop harassing Taha Siddiqui, Pakistan bureau chief for World Is One News, a New Delhi-based news website, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Officials from the FIA last night delivered a summons ordering the journalist to appear today for questioning at its counter-terrorism department, despite a court's order that they cease harassing him, Siddiqui told CPJ.

Siddiqui told CPJ that his lawyer represented him at the FIA today, but that officials did not tell the lawyer why they were summoning the journalist, beyond that it was for questioning, and that Siddiqui was not yet charged with a crime. The summons followed a May 23 ruling from the Islamabad High Court restraining the FIA from harassing Siddiqui in response to the journalist's petition, according to Siddiqui and the daily newspaper Dawn. The newspaper reported that FIA deputy director Noman Bodla on May 18 called Siddiqui to ask him to appear for questioning, and that Bodla hinted the agency's interest was related to his journalistic work. The court is scheduled to reconvene on May 29, according to Siddiqui and media reports.

"Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency should abide by the Islamabad High Court's order to stop harassing journalist Taha Siddiqui," Steven Butler, CPJ's Asia Program Coordinator, said from Washington, D.C. "Pakistani security forces should not use terrorism as a pretext for targeting journalists."

The FIA did not respond to a request for comment CPJ emailed yesterday, and the FIA's Bodla did not respond to CPJ's phone call.

"[By] visiting my residence post-work hours while I'm not there and insisting on delivering this to me without explaining why they want me to come to a counter-terrorism investigation, the FIA, Interior Ministry, and Pakistan government is continuing to harass, intimidate, and silence free speech and independent journalism," Siddiqui told CPJ.

Siddiqui said he plans to attend the high court hearing on May 29.

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