Pakistan on Friday confirmed it detained the father of a prominent activist who has fled the country, in an incident that’s fuelled fears of a clampdown and sparked condemnation from the United States.
“Prof. Mohammad Ismail has been detained by the law enforcement authorities in Peshawar in a case of cybercrime as per our laws,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said.
“Being a citizen of Pakistan, Prof. Ismail is entitled to due process and right of defence provided in the Constitution”. Ismail had been taken away by unknown men on Thursday outside a court in Peshawar, a western city near the border with Afghanistan, according to his daughter Gulalai Ismail, a women’s rights activist who fled to the United States and is seeking asylum.
Rabia Mehmood, a Pakistan researcher for Amnesty International, tweeted that he was in the custody of the cybercrime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Alice Wells, US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, expressed concern over “reports of the continued harassment of Gulalai Ismail’s family, and her father’s detention today”.