* Journalist's body had signs of torture-police
* Death likely to focus attention on press freedoms
* Other journalists have been killed in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, May 31 A Pakistani journalist who
went missing two days ago from the capital Islamabad was found
dead in eastern Pakistan, police said on Tuesday, in a case
likely to revive debate about the freedom of the press in the
Police said there were signs of torture on the body of the
reporter, Saleem Shahzad, who worked for Hong-Kong based online
Asia Times and Italian news agency Adnkronos International.
Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan representative for Human Rights
Watch, said Shahzad had told him that he was under threat by
Pakistan's military intelligence agency.
"He told me he was being followed and that he is getting
threatening telephone calls and that he is under intelligence
surveillance," he told Reuters.
"We can't say for sure who has killed Saleem Shahzad. But
what we can say for sure is that Saleem Shahzad was under
serious threat from the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and
Human Rights watch has every reason to believe that that threat
Pakistani intelligence and military officials were not
immediately available for comment.
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Shahzad, a 40-year-old father of three, disappeared while
heading to a television station to participate in a talk show.
"His body was found by residents late Monday on a bank of a
small canal," Daar Ali Khattak, police chief of Mandi Bahauddin
town, where Shahzad's body was found, told Reuters. "There are
some bruises on his body," he said without giving other details.
Another police official, Mohammad Aslam, said: "There were
torture marks on his forehead."
Pakistan has an outspoken media that has mushroomed in
recent years. It often attacks the government. But media
criticism of the military is rare in the South Asian nation, a
strategic U.S. ally.
Several Pakistani journalists have been found dead in
similar circumstances, triggering protests by reporters and
Journalists have also been killed by suspected militants in
the tribal areas of the northwest, the epicentre of militancy in
Hasan said Human Rights Watch has called for an inquiry into
the death of Shahzad, who closely followed security issues and
militancy in Pakistan.
He wrote a story stating that al Qaeda had carried out an
audacious attack on a Pakistani naval base in the southern city
of Karachi this month in which 10 people were killed, and
suggesting that some naval officials had suspected links with al
"He was threatened so many times and we had asked him to be
careful while filing news reports. But he always said 'I'm ready
for that'," said Zafar Mehmood, a close friend of Shahzad.
"It is a threat to the profession of journalism. It is a
threat to the nation, to the country. We strongly condemn it."
(Reporting by Chris Allbritton and Michael Georgy)