FBI probing Pakistani journalist
WASHINGTON- The Pakistan embassy here has written a letter to the State Department drawing its attention to the probing of a Washington correspondent of a Pakistani group of newspapers by FBI agents.
The letter, signed by the deputy chief of mission, Mohammad Sadiq, says that the correspondent —Nayyar Zaidi- is a “very senior and respected journalist” who has been representing his newspaper in Washington for “more than two decades”.
“The State Department, is well aware of his credentials,Â” Mr. Sadiq said and hoped that it would look into the matter “with sympathy”.
The State Department, when contacted, said they could not comment on the matter.
Relating the story, Mr. Zaidi said that three FBI agents – Chris McKinney, Heather Grow and Michelle Crest – visited his home in Prince County, Virginia, on Feb 20, when he was away.
The tried to interrogate his 15-year old son Zain Zaidi who telephoned him, but when he reached home the agents had left a telephone number to get in touch with them.
When Mr. Zaidi called the number agent Mr. McKinney asked him to come over to the FBIs Washington field office where the agent asked him several questions about his personal, social and religious activities.
The agent had asked him to bring his telephone notebook because he claimed that Mr. Zaidi’s home telephone was used for making calls to 10 telephone numbers in Pakistan, India and China, the Netherlands and Thailand.
The numbers “brush off” against those already under investigation for links to the events of Sept 11, 2001, Mr., McKinney said.
When Mr. Zaidi met the three agents at the field office, they released two numbers in Pakistan and China (9221-2633066 and 86-51081254).
The number in Pakistan, Mr. Zaidi says is very similar to one of the fax numbers he sends news stories to.
The Pakistan number, says Mr. Zaidi, was officially investigated by the embassy and turned out to be a disconnected number of a bankrupt textile company.
One of the agent, Ms. Grow, refused to disclose all the 10 numbers to him saying she felt very uncomfortable doing so.
Mr. Zaidi offered to cooperate with the FBI but refused to give them his telephone notebook and record unless the agents had a legal ground for making the demand
Mr. Zaidi says that after the initial investigation, the FBI did not contact him for several months but on Aug 8 two different FBI agents visited his home again and asked Mr. Zaidi to call them again as he was not at home.
He returned the call on Monday, Aug 11, and left three messages but so far the FBI has not returned his calls.