Colleagues Suspect Pakistani Journalist was Killed in Sweden

Although Swedish authorities said it is not likely that a Pakistani journalist who has been found dead in a river near Uppsala was killed, colleagues and press freedom groups remain skeptical as he had reported about human rights abuses in his native country.

Sajid HussainPhoto of the now-deceased Pakistani journalist Sajid Hussain. (Credit:Reporters Without Borders, RSF)Sajid Hussain, 39, had been missing since the beginning of March and was found dead on Friday, Swedish police said. He went into exile after covering violence, crime and rising insurgency in the tense Baluchistan province. Sweden granted him political asylum in 2019 after he initially fled Pakistan in 2012. He was last seen boarding a train in Uppsala.

 The “autopsy has reduced suspicion of crime,” a police statement explained but added that the case will need to be further investigated.  

But days before Hussain was found dead, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders stated that his disappearance might have been orchestrated.

 “And if you ask yourself who would have an interest in silencing a dissident journalist, the first response would have to be the Pakistani intelligence services,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. 

Hussain reported extensively on forced disappearances and severe human rights violations in his native Balochistan province. His home was raided by the police and his family was subjected to interrogation.  

While in exile, he worked as Editor in Chief of an online website The Balochistan Times that covers human rights in the province that has recently faced separatist movements and insurgencies.

“He was compassionate and wrote extensively on the suffering of the Baloch people. His work often got him into trouble as the authorities did not like his reporting of Balochistan's forbidden stories, the reason he had to leave and live in exile,” The Balochistan Times wrote. 

Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world, where journalists and activists are frequently harassed or even killed. According to the recent 2020 RSF press freedom index, Pakistan ranked 145 out of 180 countries.