Anti-government Pakistani reporter Taha Siddiqui escapes kidnapping bid
Pakistan made yet another attempt to silence an anti-establishment journalist on Wednesday, though unsuccessfully so. Pakistani reporter Taha Siddiqui, a prominent voice known for critiquing his country's government, narrowly escaped a kidnapping bid by armed men in the morning today while on his way to the Islamabad airport. He narrated his ordeal on Twitter shortly after the incident. Read on to know more.
At 11:31am, Siddiqui tweeted about the episode using fellow journalist Cyril Almeida's account. He wrote: "This is Taha Siddiqui using Cyrils a/c. I was on my way to airport today at 8:20am whn 10-12 armed men stopped my cab & forcibly tried to abduct me. I managed to escape. Safe and with police now. Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances"
This is Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) using Cyrils a/c. I was on my way to airport today at 8:20am whn 10-12 armed men stopped my cab & forcibly tried to abduct me. I managed to escape. Safe and with police now. Looking for support in any way possible #StopEnforcedDisappearances— cyril almeida (@cyalm) January 10, 2018
Siddiqui is the Pakistan bureau chief of WIO News, an Indian television channel. He's also a freelance reporter for several news publications including France 24 and CS Monitor. This isn't the first time that he has been targeted. In 2017, he filed a court-petition against Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency over harassment. In another tweet late evening, Siddiqui said that such attacks couldn't silence him.
Siddiqui was on the main Islamabad expressway when his taxi was stopped by another vehicle, which swerved, and suddenly braked in front of it. He was allegedly pulled out and beaten by 10-12 armed men who also threatened to kill him. Thankfully, the car's other back door was open. Siddiqui fled, took a taxi nearby and then hid in a ditch, Reuters reported.
Several journalists have condemned the incident on Twitter. Asad Hashim, who reports for Al Jazeera, tweeted: "With @TahaSSiddiqui right now. It is a miracle that he escaped. He was beaten, threatened with death and his belongings taken. This is unacceptable. Journalism is not a crime." In another tweet, Hashim posted photos of a bruised Siddiqui caked in mud after the incident.
Five Pakistani bloggers had gone missing for several weeks in 2017. Only four of them were eventually released. All four fled Pakistan upon release. Two of them later opened about being tortured by a state intelligence agency when they were held captive.