ISLAMABAD, 08 May 2020: Freedom Network is deeply concerned at media reports that missing Pakistani journalist Sajid Hussain’s dead body was found in a river in Sweden where he was living in exile after freeing harassment for his journalism back home in Balochistan.
Swedish Police on May 1, 2020, confirmed that the body they had found in a river was that of Hussain, missing since the preceding month on March 2. A police spokesperson quoted by wire services said Hussain’s body was found on April 23 in the Fyris River, outside the university town of Uppsala, 70 km north of Stockholm.
Hussain, who was granted political asylum in Sweden in 2019 after he fled Pakistan to escape, was the editor of ‘Balochistan Times’ – the online platform he managed, which is currently blocked by Pakistani authorities.
“We mourn the death of Sajid Hussain and hope police in Sweden will be able to find leads to what really happened to the journalist and if foul play is confirmed, as one such line of inquiry is being pursued, the perpetrators will be prosecuted,” Freedom Network, a Pakistan-based media rights watchdog said on May 7, 2020 in its Press Freedom Alert.
It went on to say: “The government of Pakistan’s silence at the death of one of the country’s citizens abroad is unsettling. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad issued no statement indicating it is seeking details of the case from its counterpart in Stockholm.”
It added: “It is a dangerous trend that dissident Pakistani journalists and human rights activists are apparently being targeted abroad as their counterparts are regularly facing similar attacks in Pakistan. It is hoped Sweden will live up to its expectation to combat any impunity for crimes against dissidents.”
Pakistan is ranked 145th among 180 countries in the RSF World Press Freedom Index 2020, having dropped three points from the 2019 Index rankings. In 2018 it was ranked 139.
Pakistan has therefore suffered an accumulative six-point slide in the global index under the Imran Khan government.
Image: Courtesy Google Photos