Leading Journalist and Writer Murdered
PEN International is shocked and saddened by the death of journalist and author Syed Saleem Shahzad, bureau chief of the Asia Times Online and author of the newly published Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11. He disappeared on May 29, 2011, two days after writing an article for the Asia Times Online suggesting complicity between Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Navy. His body was found on May 31, 2011, bearing signs of torture. PEN strongly urges the Pakistani authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the death of Syed Saleem Shahzad as a matter of urgency, and to do all in their power to bring the culprits to justice.
According to PEN’s information, Syed Saleem Shahzad went missing in Pakistan on May 29, 2011, having left his home to participate in a television program. He never reached the television station. Early reports suggested that Shahzad was being held by Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and it was widely believed that he was being questioned in relation to an article in the Asia Times suggesting complicity between Al Qaeda and Pakistani Navy officials.
Syed Saleem Shahzad’s body was found on May 31, 2011, in Sarai Alamgir, nearly 200 kilometers from Islamabad. Reports suggest that the body, which has now been positively identified by relatives, shows visible signs of torture.
Syed Saleem Shahzad, aged 40, was the Pakistan bureau chief of Asia Times Online, as well as the author of the groundbreaking Inside Al–Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 (Pluto Press, May 2011). Shahzad had on several occasions been warned by ISI officials over articles they deemed to be detrimental to Pakistan's national interests, most recently on October 17, 2010, when he was summoned for questioning and held for 24 hours. Recently he had complained about receiving renewed threats. He leaves behind a widow and three children, aged 7, 12 and 14.
Write A Letter
- Urging the Pakistani authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the death of Syed Saleem Shahzad as a matter of urgency, and to do all in their power to bring the culprits to justice.
Send Your Letter To
President Asif Ali Zardari
Office of the President
Fax: +92 51 920 3938 / 920 1968 / 811 390
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Pakistan in your country if possible.
Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after June 30, 2011: ftw [at] pen.org