Home Uncategorized Pakistani Journalist Syed Fawad Ali Shah Discovered Incarcerated in Pakistan Following Disappearance in Malaysia

Pakistani Journalist Syed Fawad Ali Shah Discovered Incarcerated in Pakistan Following Disappearance in Malaysia

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Pakistani Journalist Syed Fawad Ali Shah Discovered Incarcerated in Pakistan Following Disappearance in Malaysia

On August 23, 2022, freelance journalist Syed Fawad Ali Shah vanished in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as reported by various news outlets. Shah, a registered refugee in Malaysia since 2011, had fled Pakistan after being abducted by agents of the country’s military intelligence agency, the ISI. Shah’s wife, Syeda, disclosed to CPJ that he was held captive for three and a half months, enduring physical abuse and threats due to his critical reporting on Pakistan’s security forces during the U.S. war on terror.

In January 2023, Malaysian Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail announced Shah’s deportation at a press conference at the request of Pakistani authorities, who claimed he was a police officer facing disciplinary proceedings. However, Syeda refuted these allegations, asserting that Shah had never served as a police officer. She suspected collusion between the ISI and Malaysian authorities to repatriate him in retribution for his journalistic endeavors. While living in exile, Shah continued to write about political issues and alleged corruption in Pakistan, as well as refugee affairs in Malaysia.

In February 2023, Syeda discovered Shah’s detention at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi and visited him, learning that he had been held in an underground cell in Islamabad for five months, enduring mistreatment by authorities. The Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Circle in Islamabad alleged Shah’s arrest on January 26, 2023, citing violations of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, and multiple sections of the penal code. These charges included defamation, criminal intimidation, and obstruction of a public servant, commonly employed to target journalists critical of the government.

The investigation report accused Shah of disseminating false information about Pakistani civil servants, particularly Interior Ministry official Naqeeb Arshad, through a Malaysian WhatsApp account and unspecified posts on the Twitter account “Bureaucracy.” Syeda denied Shah’s involvement with the mentioned profile, which remained active even after his disappearance.

Shah’s legal team filed a bail application in mid-February, but authorities transferred him to Peshawar Central Jail without notifying his family or lawyers, citing a separate investigation initiated in December 2020. This investigation accused Shah of spreading malicious content about police officials via an anonymous profile on a WhatsApp group also named “Bureaucracy.”

Syeda expressed grave concerns for her family’s safety, reporting intimidating calls from unknown individuals and visits from ISI officials warning her to remain silent about her husband’s disappearance. Despite CPJ’s attempts to obtain comments from relevant authorities, including the Malaysian Home Ministry and Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency, no responses were received.

Efforts to contact Pakistan’s ambassador to Malaysia and the country’s information minister were also unsuccessful. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media wing, did not respond to CPJ’s inquiry.

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