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French Journalists and their arrest in Pakistan

12 January, 2004

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Police in Pakistan arrested two French Journalists, Mr. Marc Epstein and Mr. Jean Paul who work for L'Express magazine in France. Later on court suspended arrest orders and accepted their bail petition filed by the defense attorney. They wre arrested for illegally visiting a sensitive border town of Quetta near Pak-Afghan border. A local journalist Syed Khawar Mehdi aiding the two men was also arrested and is still in custody. The maximum punishment under respective charge is a 3-year rigorous imprisonment, besides fine.

They are also allegedly involved in making a video showing fake Taliban guerillas getting arms training within Pakistans territory. Pakistan Television (PTV) also ran a story showing clips from the making of their documentary, and how the local tribesmen were paid to wear turbans and act like Taliban.

1- If found guilty, would a severe Punishment stop such journalists in future to malign Pakistan with fake documentaries ?

2- Is western media, in general, bias towards projection of Pakistan ?

Reader Comments:

Yes.. Quite Bias

Pakistan must use this opportunity to maximize the projection of their case on western media.

I have seen the video in which they paid local tribesmen in US Dollars, plus they also paid somewhere US$ 2,500 to their local aide in Pakistan to make this fake documentary. Had they been succeeded in showing these people as Taliban getting training in Pakistan, it must have had damaged reputation of Pakistan on international level. So Yes, Pakistan should punish them and let the world know that it is not going to be easy anymore for these western journalists to make fake documentaries inside Pakistan. We can't tolerate this anymore.

Western media is not only bias, but working with a set of objectives in line with their Governments policies, that is, to project Pakistan as rogue state. We can't ignore the fact that India is also paying US$ 250 million every year to BBC to air its version of the news, so you can expect how much Jews must be paying to CNN to malign Pakistan, as we are the only Muslim country who has a nuclear bomb.

These stories are definitely a selling one!

SIJ, Pakistan - 12 January, 2004


I am glad that Pakistan is becoming aggressive in monitoring such bias activities of western journalists on its territory.

They should make it clear to all of them that nothing of this sort will ever be digested in future.

Ijaz, Pakistan - 12 January, 2004

Concerning the previous comment:

I agree that Western media is biased against many muslim countries. This is wrong. However, the media is biased because it gains economically through contracts and trade agreements with GOVERNMENTS that sponsor them. For example, many say that we invaded Iraq for their oil, and Saudi Arabia, despite committing atrocities and human rights violations, is our ally, because of similar economic reasons. I am sympathetic to your cause, and I think it's terrible that such a fake documentary was being made. However, it's equally terrible to blame Jews for this. There is no great Jewish conspiracy against muslims. There is no great Islamic conspiracy against Jews (except for the occasional jihadist group, but not most muslims). It's defining entire groups of people by their religions, and blaming entire ethnic groups for the acts or perceived acts of a few that leads to war, hate, and terrorism. We all need to be more open-minded. There are some who are Jews. There are some who are Muslims. There are some who are Christians. Some are right. Some are wrong. But let's not hate each other. Each man's faith, whether in something true or not, is as earnest as another man's. It comes from wanting to fulfill God's will, to be good and helpful to others. Fighting, hatred, and war are not what a spiritual man should seek. Only peace. Islam is peace. Judaism is peace. Christianity is peace. ALL religions have had regimes that oppress and torture and kill others. Muslim terrorists have killed thousands. The Jews invaded Palestine and murdered hundreds, if not thousands. The Christians fought in the Crusades and murdered countless Muslims. It doesn't matter. They DID NOT represent their faiths. Surely, such violence proves that they were not truly religious men? A religious man seeks peace.

Andrew Cooper, United Kingdom - 12 January, 2004

French Journalists

This is the worst form of yellow journalism,there is a media war going on in this world where channels are used as a govts tools in the prevailing propaganda war .Pakistan already suffered a lot from propaganda from indian sides who are spitting venom against us all over the world and unfortunately we are not doing enough to counteract them .its our luck that we have caught them with proof otherwise there could have been chances of these journalists maligning our country badly ,by looking at these journalists daring attitude in making the fake video's clearly shows that they can go up to any extent to prove their case against us ,not only the jounalists but the L'Express magazine should also be held responsible and our govt should send them a notice or ban them to come to Pakistan.Its up to our courts now to save the sovereignty of our nation by penalizing them so that noone should take Pakistan as an orphan state were everyone can get away with everything .

Aisha Sana, Pakistan - 12 January, 2004

a more important question

Everyone is overlooking the most important aspect of the story about the French journalists. The big questions is, WHY IS QUETTA OFF LIMITS TO JOURNALISTS? Not having seen the footage in question, I cannot speak to whether it was staged by the police or the reporters. But the fact remains, QUETTA IS OFF LIMITS -- WHY? Cities are closed when governments are up to something they want kept quiet. Another question I have, why were these French reporters paying people in U.S. Dollars and not in Euros or Pakistani Rupees? Those are the currencies to which they would have had easier access. One last word, the reader who believes CNN is run by Jews should be informed that Ted Turner, the owner of CNN, is not Jewish. I strongly concur with the reader who wrote that religious people of all faiths seek peace and tranquility among all people, be they Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists. To say otherwise is to speak in opposition to any and all of these religions.

ariel darren, United Kingdom - 13 January, 2004

Not only being a journalist, but even if an average person did that should be punished. Where r ur morals????i think because of all this fake !propoganda more hatred is... being developed between people from different religions...specially for the muslims!Inorder to discontinue this in the future the journalists should be punished for sure

Shehla, Canada - 14 January, 2004

arrest of French journalists and then their trial was a very good oppotunity for pakistan to clarify itself. now the world can judge how western media tarnish pakistan's image by making fake movies. but the most worried and imperative thing is, a Pakistani journalist help them and ofcourse some security personnel must be involved in it too when they crossed into Kandahar. Pakistanis were sold for few dollars..we cant only blame western media the fault is in our own country...our own people are not sincere to their motherland and why is it so? the government should think about it....they hadnt been able to cross into Afghanistan and then makeing fake movie without local people help......
beside all that gov. shdnt have relased them without completing six-month jail term and btw where is pakistani journalist?
why the FIA is not diclsoing his whereabouts???french journalists have been relased why is he still under detention??

Amna Yousaf, Pakistan - 14 January, 2004

Pakistani mind set?

No matter where you live,mind set remains the same.The allegations against western media or anything western are no exception.The arrest of French journalists is deplorable paticularly in era of freedom of information.Violation of law-what law-just an administrative order to go certain cities and not to go where the news is.This happens in a country where practically there is no rule of law but rule of high and mighty is the currency.I regret that defenders of faith are in unision in appreciating the illegal act of legal court without realising that higher court set them free.On top of everything no word of concern about Pakistani journalist,no matter what crime he has committed to accompany French journalist,still in custody.No law provides to keep somebody under detention without any charge.Is this a greatest crime for a Pakistani journalist to accompany French journalist to a city for which French did not have vsa.Lament my friends for state of governance in Pakistan before pointing fingers towards biased western media.The earlier come out from the obscurantist mind set of a Pakistani better it will for the state.Stand up for the rule law and access to freedom of information,only than much desired democracy will prevail and keep in mind that democracy is purely a secular concept.

zunoon siddiqi, Canada - 14 January, 2004

Pakistani journalist still missing

I agree with Zunoon. Our agencies must first learn to respect their own fellow citizens. Because the other two were french national, their trial was open and speedy, I wish the same treatment for the local journalist Khawar Rivi who is still missing and no one knows where he is except Pakistan's secret agencies. They first need to find an offence against him, which could be nothing else but an act against the misused word 'national interest'.

Sunny, Pakistan - 15 January, 2004


Government of Pakistan and its authourities arrested these journalists because they want to keep them secret and their impotent,unworthyness,and improper behaviour. They always be afraid of media because they never done right things. When ever someone from Pakistan went to any French, English country , any authority stop their moving to any city?or any compeltion like that. Answer will be big `no`. Western media is less false then Pakistani government and officials. Pakistani agencies can convert a deer into elephant with their tricks, registering false FIRs and making defamation cases are being already against journalists. In Pakistan sing government's song or quit is law for everyone.

Mansoor Hassan, United Arab Emirates - 17 January, 2004


Govt of Pakistan and its authorities arrested these journalists because they want to keep them secret and their impotent, unworthiness and impropoer behavior. They always be afraid of media because they have never done right things. Whenever someone from Pakistan who went to any French or English country, has any authority there stopped them from moving into any city ? Answer will be big No. Western media is at less false than Pakistani Govt and officials. Pakistani agencies can convert a deer into elephant with their tricks. Registering false FIRs and making defamation cases are being already against journalists in Pakistan. The rule of law is that we should only sing the songs of Govt or quit.

Mansoor Hassan, Pakistan - 19 January, 2004

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