(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, August 14, 2009 - The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by U.S. immigration officials' decision to detain without explanation Rahman Bunairee, a Pakistani reporter for Voice ofAmerica (VOA) who said he had been targeted for attack in his home country.
CPJ calls on immigration officials to release Bunairee immediately and allow him to resume his work for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster.
Bunairee arrived at Washington's Dulles International Airport on Sunday from Karachi, intending to take a position at VOA's Washington headquarters. Bunairee had fled Pakistan after saying he had been threatened and attacked; notably, he reported a July 8 attack in which Taliban militants blew up his family's home in Buner District in Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province. The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan had issued Bunairee a J-1 visa, for visiting scholars and experts, which would allow him to live and work in the United States for a year, according to a VOA press release posted Friday on its Web site.
Bunairee was detained at the airport by the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division. A spokeswoman for the agency, Cori Bassett, confirmed that Bunairee was in ICE custody in an e-mail message to CPJ on Friday. "Mr. Bunairee . . . will be afforded all rights and procedures allowed under our laws," Bassett said, but declined to comment further citing ICE protocol.
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