Reporter gets death threats after covering sexual assault

Paris>Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about the anonymous threats that Noorul Wahab, a journalist who covers the districts of Charsadda and Mardan in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the Daily Expressnewspaper, has been getting for the past two days.

“We urge those responsible for these threats to stop harassing this journalist, who has committed no crime and has just done his job,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also urge the authorities in Charsadda and Mardan to provide Wahab with protection without delay, to ensure that the threats are not carried out.

“We can take it for granted that the police are now aware of these threats and, in view of Pakistan’s disastrous history in combatting violence against journalists, they can no longer justify any failure to take action in this case.”

Wahab began receiving the threats from an Afghan phone number on 12 January, the day after his newspaper published a report by him on a sexual attack on a female student. It was reprinted in the Daily Pakistan and Khabrain, and was picked up by the ARY News TV station.

“You will be shot dead after three days,” the anonymous phone callers said.

Wahab thinks that the national coverage put pressure on the student’s attackers, forcing them to contact her family in an attempt to negotiate an out-of-court settlement

He immediately reported the threats to the Charsadda and Mardan authorities. He has received the support of the Peshawar Press Club and the Union of Khyber Journalists, which have voiced their unanimous condemnation.

Ranked 159th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Pakistan is one of the world’s deadliest countries for media personnel.

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