Washington, D.C., March 30, 2020 — Swedish authorities should make every effort to locate missing journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On March 2, Baloch, a Pakistani exile and editor-in-chief of the English and Balochi news website Balochistan Times, disappeared from his home in Uppsala, Sweden, according to a statement by the Balochistan Times editorial board issued on March 28 and news reports. A case on the disappearance was filed with Swedish police on March 3, according to that statement.
Wajid Hussain Baloch, Sajid’s brother, who remains in Pakistan, told CPJ via messaging app that the family withheld any public announcement of the journalist’s disappearance for weeks in order not to interfere with any possible police investigation.
Baloch fled Pakistan in 2012 after receiving threats related to his reporting on the separatist conflict in Balochistan province, according to those news reports. He lived in exile in several countries before seeking asylum in Sweden in 2017, according to reports.
The Balochistan Times covers human rights abuse in the province, according to CPJ’s review of its output.
“Swedish police should step up efforts to find Sajid Hussain Baloch and keep his family closely informed of any developments,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The disappearance of a journalist who focused on one of Pakistan’s most sensitive issues—human rights in Balochistan—and who escaped Pakistan because of threats he received, is especially concerning.”
The journalist’s brother told CPJ that the family did not know who might be behind the disappearance. “We don’t know whom we are fighting,” he said, adding that Swedish police had given no word to the family on the status of the investigation.
CPJ called the Swedish police, and was patched through to an officer overseeing the case, who did not answer the call.
Last month, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency issued a statement demanding that Gul Bukhari, a Pakistani columnist based in the United Kingdom, appear in Pakistan for questioning or else the agency would file terrorism charges against her, as CPJ documented at the time.