PAKISTAN: Bail sought for French journalists detained in Pak

Lawyers on Thursday applied for bail for two French journalists who were arrested for violating their press visa restrictions by visiting the southwest city of Quetta near the Afghan border

The Times of India
Thursday, December 18, 2003

KARACHI : Lawyers on Thursday applied for bail for two French journalists who were arrested for violating their press visa restrictions by visiting the southwest city of Quetta near the Afghan border.

"We have moved an application for release of the two French journalists," the pair's defence lawyer Nafees Siddiqui said.

The bail application was lodged with a court in the southern city Karachi.

The court yesterday instructed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to hold the pair for eight days for visiting Quetta without permission.

The bail application will be heard on Saturday, Siddiqui said.

The journalists -- reporter Mark Epstein and photographer Jean Paul Guilloteau of L'Express magazine -- arrived in Pakistan on December 7 on journalist visas which only allowed them to visit Karachi, the capital Islamabad and eastern city Lahore.

An FIA official said the pair could face three years jail.

Reporters Without Borders called for their immediate release and raised concern at the unknown whereabouts of their Pakistani assistant, Khawar Mehdi Rizvi, who accompanied them to Quetta.

The organisation issued a statement criticising the imposition of visa and travel restrictions on foreign reporters as "obstructing investigative journalism."