Award-winning Pakistani journalist escapes kidnap attempt

Taha Siddiqui, the Pakistani bureau chief of Indian television channel WION, had previously complained of being harassed by authorities for publishing bold critiques of Pakistan’s security establishment. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2018
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Award-winning Pakistani journalist escapes kidnap attempt

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani journalist known for criticizing the powerful military said he had escaped an abduction attempt after being assaulted by armed men in Islamabad Wednesday, in the latest case involving forced disappearances in the turbulent country.
Taha Siddiqui, who won France’s highest journalism award the Albert Londres prize in 2014, said he was attacked by up to a dozen men en route to the airport in Rawalpindi but managed to escape before being kidnapped, suffering minor injuries during the scuffle.
“Safe and with police now. Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances,” wrote Siddiqui in a tweet posted on a fellow journalist’s account.


Siddiqui, the Pakistani bureau chief of Indian television channel WION and who has reported for France 24, had previously complained of being harassed by authorities for publishing bold critiques of the country’s security establishment.
Human rights and media groups voiced concern over the incident, saying the use of violence against journalists was troubling.
“This is extremely worrying and reinforces the fear that human rights groups and media organizations have voiced for a while now that the Pakistan government views violence as an instrument of dealing with dissenting voices,” Human Rights Watch country representative Saroop Ijaz said.
“This is also a reflection of the impunity that has existed for a long time, and has been increasing recently,” he said.
The Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists said it had contacted Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal “to direct the concerned officials to investigate the incident of attempted kidnapping of a senior journalist.”
The attack comes months after prominent reporter Ahmed Noorani was also savagely beaten and stabbed in the head after being dragged out of his car in Islamabad by armed assailants.
Pakistan has a long history of enforced disappearances, particularly in conflict zones near the border with Afghanistan, or in restive southwestern Balochistan province.
The country routinely ranks among the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers, and reporting critical of the powerful military is considered a red flag, with reporters at times detained, beaten and even killed for running afoul of the security establishment.


Vietnam withdraws license of news site, issues fine

Updated 17 July 2018
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Vietnam withdraws license of news site, issues fine

  • The one-party state controls most media and has jailed activists and bloggers critical of the government, but revoking licenses is rare
  • The website was one of the most widely read in the country, publishing critical content on politics, lifestyle and social issues

HANOI: A popular Vietnamese news website has been suspended and fined about $10,000 after it was accused of publishing false information, as the communist government quashes any perceived criticism.
The one-party state controls most media and has jailed activists and bloggers critical of the government, but revoking licenses is rare.
The Ministry of Information and Communication said in an announcement Monday that the state-owned Tuoi Tre Online misquoted President Tran Dai Quang in an article in June that had him endorsing the idea of a law on demonstrations.
In a separate report last year on highway development, comments posted on the site had also contributed to undermining “national unity,” the announcement said.
The report on the president came days after scores were detained in June, following sometimes violent protests in several cities against planned special economic zones seen as opening the door to land takeovers by China.
An American-Vietnamese citizen arrested during the crackdown is expected to face trial this week.
The demonstrations were not mentioned in the order from the ministry, which said the outlet must pay a fine, surrender its license for three months, publish a correction and issue an apology.
“Tuoi Tre Online must seriously obey this decision,” the ministry said.
The newspaper connected with the site published a note Tuesday in print saying it would comply with the order.
“Tuoi Tre Online will have to say good bye to our readers for three months, starting July 16,” it said.
“During this time, Tuoi Tre Online will proceed with the perfection of its personnel, improving its content so that we can serve readers better when we are back.”
It said several print publications published by the same institution would continue operating normally.
The website was one of the most widely read in the country, publishing critical content on politics, lifestyle and social issues.