Journalist reveals ordeal suffered at the hands of spy agency
A Pakistani journalist Waqar Kiani has revealed that the intelligence agencies had tortured him in July 2008, accusing him of being a British agent, reported the Guardian.
According to the newspaper, Kiani says he was driving out of Islamabad just after sunset when two vehicles ran him off the road and two men bundled him into a Toyota jeep and applied a blindfold. Fifteen minutes later, they reached a safehouse where he was tied to a chair and greeted by an interrogator.
The Guardian says 29-year-old Kiani, while working for the Guardian at the time, had two days earlier travelled to Karachi on assignment for London-based reporter Ian Cobain, who was preparing a story about alleged cooperation between Pakistani and British intelligence in the detention and abuse of suspected militants. The trail led Kiani to the headquarters of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in an upmarket city suburb. Realising he was being followed, Kiani hastily returned to Islamabad where he found his apartment ransacked while some papers were also missing. Hours later, he disappeared. At the safehouse, interrogators punched him in the kidneys and burned his arms with cigarettes. They accused him of being a British agent and peppered him with questions, which indicated that they had details of his bank account, movements and interactions with two Guardian reporters. Despite Kiani’s plea that he was a journalist, one of them said. “We don’t care about the Guardian, whatever that is. We are just doing our job.” During the beating Kiani vomited and was refused access to water or a toilet.
Hours later the men bundled him back in a vehicle and started driving. He could only hear voices. “What shall we do with him?” said one. “Cut off his legs,” replied one. “Cut off his fingers,” said another, “so that he will not be able to write anything in future.” Another suggestion came, “We should shoot him and throw him in the river.” Three hours later, Kiani was dumped on the roadside in Mianwali and warned if he told anyone of his ordeal, they would abduct his wife, rape her and post a video of the assault on YouTube. They pushed him from the vehicle, still blindfolded; warning him not to look back or they would shoot. “The following day I went to see the interior minister, Rehman Malik.
He was evasive, suggesting a private gang was behind the attack but promised to investigate. He assigned two policemen to guard Kiani’s home. I contacted Human Rights Watch, who offered advice,” says Kiani. But for days afterwards, strangers still lingered outside his apartment block. He received threatening phone calls, including one that threatened the ‘ultimate punishment’ for having sought help while police were reluctant to register a case. “Once, after being followed by an unmarked car, Kiani turned up at my house at 3am, terrified. He stayed the night,” says the Guardian’s correspondent in Pakistan. The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, wrote a private letter to the Pakistani government, expressing his concern. Eventually the harassment stopped. Kiani is now back at work, most recently covering the death of Osama bin Laden but still he cannot identify his abductors.
The Guardian did not publicise the abduction at the time out of fears for Kiani’s safety, but now he has agreed to talk about it for the first time. “Our government and military establishment want their own kind of stories in the papers,” he said. “That’s why abuses continue to happen.”
Meanwhile the Interior Ministry – which oversees the IB – has not resolved the case.
Source: Pakistan Today