Letter: Editor's arrest

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The Independent Culture

Editor's arrest

Sir: Andreas Whittam Smith ("Pakistan must learn the value of a free press", 17 May) draws much-needed attention to the plight of Najam Sethi, editor of The Friday Times in Pakistan. The beating, arrest and incommunicado detention of this man have not attracted a great deal of attention in this country but it is part of a disturbing pattern of intimidation and arbitrary arrest of journalists who have had the temerity to criticise Pakistan's government publicly.

A number of Najam Sethi's colleagues believe that his arrest was connected to his contact with a BBC team investigating corruption in Pakistan. A number of other journalists who have been in contact with the BBC have also been targeted, including Hussain Haqqani, another Friday Times journalist, whose lawyer reported that he had been severely tortured in detention. Not only is Sethi now detained as a prisoner of conscience, there is also a serious risk that he may be tortured and that his life is in danger.

As Nawaz Sharif's government continues to try and silence Pakistani journalists, it is our duty in the international community to make sure their cases are heard loud and clear.


Director of Communications

Amnesty International

London EC1