French embassy moves to secure release of 2 journalists
By Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR: The French embassy hired a legal counsel from Islamabad on Tuesday to secure release of its two journalists arrested here under 14 Foreigners’ Act five days back, it was learnt.
Two French newsmen, Francois Lino Candona of TF-1 TV and Christopher Phillips Beneyre, were arrested by the Special Branch Police on May 28 for travelling to the city without required documents and video filming in a sensitive area of Peshawar Cantonment. They were handed over to the West Cantonment Police Station the same day.
The lawyer engaged by the French authorities has submitted a bail application on behalf of the two journalists to Additional Sessions Judge Aurangzeb Khattak, said the sources privy to the case.
One of the detained journalists had got Pakistani visa from New Delhi and had reached Pakistan a few days backs, said a source. The two had also interviewed an officer of the bomb disposal unit at the office of Special Branch Police.
There are reports that French newsmen had not informed the authorities about their visit to Peshawar. “Every foreigner needs to register with the Special Branch so that they could be provided security in the volatile city,” said a police official.
Counsel from the French embassy and local lawyers had appeared before a judicial magistrate on Saturday last with request for granting bail to the two newsmen. The court, however, denied the bail to the French citizens. Another such request was rejected on May 31.
There were some unconfirmed reports that one of the detained French nationals had visited Matani on March 26 without obtaining prior permission and security clearance to interview a leader of the Qaumi Lashkar that was raised against militants. Police had put him in a bus to take him to Islamabad.
An official of the city police, however, said the names of the two were the same but the detained Phillip had not interviewed head of Adezai Lashkar in March.
The sources said the French national who visited Matani was not arrested and was allowed to conduct interview in the volatile Matani town. They said later the police officials had put him on an Islamabad-bound bus.
Source: The News