Pakistan denies entry to Committee to Protect Journalists’ Asia coordinator

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistani immigration authorities denied entry into the country to Steven Butler, the coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Asia Programme, on Friday.

Butler, a veteran journalist, had arrived in Pakistan to attend the Asma Jahangir Conference-Roadmap for Human Rights in Pakistan.

“A border officer at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore told Butler that his journalist visa was valid, but it was voided because his name was ‘on a stop list of the Interior Ministry’,” read a statement from the CPJ.

Butler was forced to go back to the United States by an immigration officer who cited a ‘stop list’ from the federal interior ministry.

The statement from the CPJ said that Butler’s passport and boarding pass was confiscated by the flight crew and he was put on a flight back to Washington via Doha.

“Butler told CPJ that he was in ‘a kind of restricted custody’ and his passport and boarding pass was in the possession of the flight crew,” the statement read further.

Jeol Simon, CPJ Executive Director, said that the move was a ‘baffling’ one and said that to those who were concerned about press freedom in Pakistan, it was a ‘slap in the face’.

He demanded the government hold a swift and transparent investigation into the incident and demonstrate commitment to press freedom in Pakistan.

The interior ministry has yet to issue a statement on the matter.