Govt likely to set free French journalists
KARACHI, Dec 18: The two French journalists, arrested late on Tuesday night for travelling to Quetta without permission, are likely to be released in a couple of days.
Well-placed sources told Dawn that the authorities were considering withdrawing from the prosecution of Joel Marc Epstein and Jeon Paul Gullateau, reporter and photographer of the French weekly “L’Express”, who were handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency for interrogation till Dec 24.
They said the journalists, who claimed to have crossed into Afghanistan to do a story on the Taliban, would be deported immediately after their release. The FIA’s Passport Circle obtained their eight-day custody for interrogation from a judicial magistrate after registering a case against them for violating the Sections 3 (2) (a) (e) and 13/14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
The two, who also claimed to have visited a group of Taliban in Kandahar and interviewed a local commander, had visa only for Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and they did not have special permission to travel to Quetta.
Marc Epstein arrived here on December 7 and left for Islamabad by air on December 9, while the photographer entered Pakistan via Wagah from India. Both of them have been to Pakistan for several times.
The sources said both the provincial and federal authorities were empowered to withdraw from the prosecution of any person under Section 494 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Meanwhile, the journalists’ counsel, Nafees Siddiqui, moved application for their bail in an additional district and sessions court, South. The judge fixed the matter for Saturday and issued notice to the prosecution for arguments on the application.