Journalist Fawad Ali Shah Found In Adiala Jail Months After Disappearing In Malaysia: Pakistan Army role suspected

On 8 February 2023, Syeda learned that her husband, journalist Syed Fawad Ali Shah, was being held at Adiala jail in Rawalpindi. This was the first news she received of him in over five months, since he disappeared from Kuala Lumpur in late August 2022. Syed visited Shah at Adiala jail the following day, where he told her that Pakistani authorities had been abusing him in an underground cell in Islamabad for five months by then.

Syeda said she had been receiving threats for speaking out about her husband’s case, which is why she was suspicious of the February phone call, assuming it was a trap. But on 9 February this year, Syeda was finally able to see her husband.

The husband and wife had last spoken to each other on 22 August 2022. Shah’s lawyers are starting to learn details of what happened to him.

Syed Fawad Ali Shah said that he was transported out of Malaysia on a stretcher, and strongly believes he was drugged. Since then, he has mostly been held in various dark cells and tortured, Syeda says.

Pakistan has detained the journalist on accusations of “defamation,” “intimidation” of officials, and posting “false, frivolous and fake information” online, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Shah’s lawyers and press freedom advocates say the charges are baseless and concocted in retaliation for the Shah’s critical coverage of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agencies.

When Pakistan requested that Shah be deported, Malaysia says that Pakistani authorities claimed he was a police officer wanted for disciplinary proceedings. His wife says he never worked for the police.

After speaking with Shah’s lawyers and wife, RSF has concluded that Shah was held incommunicado for five and a half months in various cells of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency.

Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, an Islamabad-based lawyer representing Shah, said her client was dealing with several legal complaints filed across multiple jurisdictions.

“The actual process in and of itself is an abusive process, and that’s what the purpose of these proceedings is. It’s not actually to convict him. It’s to make him run from pillar to post,” Mazari-Hazir told a foreign news organisation. According to her, the whole process was designed “to financially, emotionally, physically exhaust you.” Despite Shah being in Pakistan since August, police have not yet taken the steps to move to trial, Mazari-Hazir added.

Pakistan had been trying to have Shah repatriated since the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees granted him refugee status in 2014, according to RSF.

In deporting him last August, it seems the Malaysian government believed Shah was a police officer facing disciplinary charges in Pakistan, Mazari-Hazir said. “This is at the very least negligence on the part of the Malaysian government,” she said.

He was formally transferred on February 8 to Adiala Jail, the main prison in the city of Rawalpindi, before being moved to a jail in Peshawar ten days later.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Shah was not included in their most recent census (as of 1 December 2022) of journalists imprisoned around the world, because CPJ was not aware of his imprisonment at the time.

March 4, 2023

Source: The Friday Times

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