Pakistani journalist produced in court

A journalist in Pakistan, missing since the past five weeks after being arrested with two French reporters, was produced in court on sedition charges.

    The journalist accused of preparing fake Taliban training camp film

    Khawar Mahdi Rizvi and two others were produced before a judicial magistrate on Tuesday in the southwest city of Quetta, capital of

    Baluchistan province.

    "He was produced before the judicial magistrate and the magistrate remanded him to police custody for investigation," a Baluchistan police

    official said on Wednesday.

    Rizvi was arrested on 16 December with reporters Marc Epstein and photographer Jean-Paul Guilloteau of France's L'Express magazine

    because the French pair had violated their visa restrictions by travelling to Quetta.

    The French journalists were jailed, charged, tried and sentenced to six months' prison and eventually freed this month on appeal, although

    their visa violation convictions were upheld.

    They flew home on 13 January.

    Criminal charges

    Epstien (L) and Guilloteau were
    held for visa violation

    Rizvi, Syed Allah Noor and Abd Allah Shakir have been charged with sedition, criminal conspiracy and impersonation for allegedly preparing a

    film of a fake Taliban training camp between Quetta and the Afghan border.

    Rizvi, a freelance journalist, had accompanied the French journalists to Baluchistan, where Afghanistan's Taliban had emerged in 1994.

    Rizvi's whereabouts had been a mystery for about five weeks as authorities denied he was under detention, although state-run television

    had shown him in police custody soon after his arrest.

    "I am really mentally tired and suffered a lot and today I saw the sky after weeks in police custody," Rizvi told reporters at the court.

    International rights group and media organisations have slammed Rizvi's arrest.

    Pakistan Television had shown footage, allegedly seized from the French journalists, in which Nur and Shakir were seen training a small

    group of young men in the use of weapons.

    The film showed Shakir posing as Taliban commander Mullah Malangi, police said.

    The accused face a maximum punishment of 10 years' in jail.

    SOURCE: AFP


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