Guardian journalist badly beaten for the second time in Pakistan

The Guardian reports:

Five days after he published an account of abduction and torture by suspected Pakistani intelligence agents, a journalist working for the Guardian has been badly beaten by uniformed men who said they wished to “make an example” of him.

The assault revived concerns about media freedom in Pakistan, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. Three weeks ago, another reporter, Saleem Shahzad, was beaten to death after disappearing from the capital.

Men wearing police uniforms stopped Waqar Kiani, a 32-year-old local journalist who has worked for the Guardian, as he drove through Islamabad on Saturday night, and ordered him to get out of his car. As he stepped out, four men landed a flurry of blows with fists, wooden batons and a rubber whip. Two others watched from inside the jeep. “They said ‘You want to be a hero? We’ll make you a hero’,” said Kiani, who was recovering from his injuries . “Then they said: ‘We’re going to make an example of you’.”

It was the second time Kiani had been targeted. Last Monday the Guardian revealed he had been abducted from central Islamabad in July 2008, blindfolded and taken to a safe house where interrogators beat him viciously and burned him with cigarettes.

The ordeal ended 15 hours later when his abductors dumped him 120 miles from Islamabad, warning they would rape his wife “and post the video on YouTube” if he told anyone.

Kiani had been working on a story about the illegal detention and torture of Islamist militants by Pakistani intelligence in collaboration with MI5. His research led him to an office of the Intelligence Bureau, the main civilian spy agency.

Although his abductors did not identify themselves they displayed detailed knowledge of Kiani’s bank account, movements and contacts with Guardian journalists, leading him to conclude they worked for the government.The Guardian withheld Kiani’s story for three years until last Monday. Kiani later gave a detailed interview about his experience to a local television channel. He believes the coverage triggered Saturday’s vicious assault, which occurred after he went out to buy milk. “There is zero tolerance among our government and military establishment,” he said. “They don’t want us to speak the truth.”

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