15 years later, no justice for Hayatullah Khan, the journalist who was abducted and murdered on June 16, 2006

15 years later, no justice for Hayatullah Khan, the journalist who was abducted and murdered on June 16, 2006

One of the most high profile murder case of a journalist in Pakistan remains unsolved 15 years later. On June 16, 2006, the body of English-language daily The Nation and Urdu-language daily Ausaf reporter as well photographer for the European Press Agency Hayatullah Khan was found outside a village in Mirali in North Waziristan tribal agency in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Khan, 29, had been kidnapped five months earlier on December 5, 2005 by five masked men.

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) commemorates the death of Khan and urges the relevant authorities to pursue the case till justice is provided. We hope the passage of a federal journalists’ safety bill can assist in ensuring that cases pertaining to crimes against journalists reach their logical end.

On June 16, Khan’s body was recovered months after he had been abducted. According to Dawn, his body was found with his hands chained and he had been shot from behind. According to his brother, Khan had “looked weak”, he had grown a beard and was wearing the same clothes he was wearing when he was kidnapped. He said Khan appeared to have received five gunshots and looked like he was shot from behind while trying to escape.

Khan was abducted a day after his photographs of the remnants of a US made Hellfire missile that killed a senior Al-Qaeda leader from Egypt, Hamza Rabia, in Miran Shah, were distributed by the European Press Photo Agency on December 4, 2005. The photographs were an apparent contradiction of the official explanation that Rabia died in a blast caused by explosives located within the house, and not from an aerial attack

Khan’s kidnapping remained shrouded in mystery with rumors of him being in the custody of the Taliban, Americans and Pakistani law enforcement agencies. All denied holding the journalist.

A judicial commission was appointed following his murder but the report has not yet been released. On July 15, 2020, the Peshawar High Court directed federal and provincial governments to respond to a petition seeking orders to release the report of a judicial inquiry into Khan’s abduction and death.

Days after Khan’s body was recovered, on June 21 2006, the Supreme Court had announced the formation of an inquiry commission and presented a report. However, Khan’s brother

Ahsaam said he never received a copy despite filing a petition in Peshawar seeking the report in October 2020, which was dismissed.