Washington, D.C., February 15, 2022 — Pakistan authorities must investigate the recent abuse of an ARY News crew by intelligence officials and ensure those responsible are held to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On Tuesday, at the Karachi office of the Intelligence Bureau, the country’s civilian domestic intelligence body, IB officers held ARY News host Syed Iqrarul Hassan and his reporting team at gunpoint, forced them to strip naked, and beat and electrocuted them, according to Hassan’s account of the incident given to ARY News, a video interview with the journalist at a hospital posted to Twitter by ARY TV host Waseem Badari, and news reports.
The news crew was at the Intelligence Bureau to report on an official who allegedly accepted a bribe, when a group of agents detained the team for about three hours, during which they beat them and electrocuted some of the journalists on “sensitive” parts of their bodies, according to those reports.
Following the incident, Intelligence Bureau Deputy Director-General Iftikhar Nabi Tunio ordered the suspension of five IB officials “for mistreatment of ARY News Team and mishandling the situation,” according to those reports and a copy of the order posted to Twitter.
“Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau took a useful first step by suspending the officials allegedly responsible for beating and abusing ARY News host Syed Igrarul Hassan and his crew,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The next, and more important step is for the agency to break Pakistan’s terrible record of impunity in crimes against journalists by investigating and punishing those responsible for this attack. Pakistani officials need to know that crimes against journalists will no longer be tolerated.”
Hassan required multiple stiches to his head and suffered a dislocated shoulder, he told his employer. CPJ was unable to immediately identify the other members of Hassan’s ARY News team. CPJ called and texted Hassan, but he did not immediately respond.
Hassan hosts the Sar-e-Aam show, an investigative crime program that conducts sting operations, according to those news reports.
CPJ was unable to find contact information for the Intelligence Bureau, which reports to the prime minister’s office. CPJ emailed the prime minister’s office seeking comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.