Missing Pakistani journalist found dead in Swedish river


A Pakistani journalist living in exile in Sweden, was found dead in a river by Swedish police after having been missing since March 02. He was last seen boarding a train to Uppsala, a city 35 miles (56km) north of Stockholm.

Sajid Hussain, the editor of an ethnic Baloch news website was granted political asylum in Sweden only in 2019 after fleeing his country in 2012 in fear of his life.

“His body was found on April 23 in the Fyris river outside Uppsala,” Jonas Eronen, a police spokesman, said.

A press freedom charity had suggested Pakistani intelligence was behind Hussain’s disappearance in early March. But a Swedish police spokesman told the BBC their initial investigation did not suggest any foul play in the death.

Hussain, who was 39, was last seen boarding a train in Stockholm on his way to the city of Uppsala on  March 02, according to the press freedom charity Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

He was to collect the keys to a new flat but he did not get off the train in Uppsala, RSF said, quoting police. The charity said it was possible he had been abducted “at the behest of a Pakistani intelligence agency”.

In Pakistan, Hussain had been writing about enforced disappearances and organised crime in the country’s Balochistan province, which has witnessed a long-running nationalist insurgency.

Hussain’s wife, Shehnaz told the Pakistan newspaper Dawn that before fleeing for Sweden, her husband had sensed he was being followed. As well as writing about forced disappearances, he had exposed a drug kingpin in Pakistan.

“Then some people broke into his house in Quetta when he was out investigating a story,” she said. “They took away his laptop and other papers too. After that he left Pakistan in September 2012 and never came back.”

Pakistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist. It ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the 2019 RSF Press Freedom Index.

Balochistan, in the west of Pakistan, has been the scene of a long-running nationalist insurgency. The Pakistani military has been accused of torturing and “disappearing” dissidents. Insurgent groups have also killed members of non-Baloch ethnic groups.

Online newspaper the Balochistan Times, for which Hussain was chief editor, reported his disappearance to Swedish police on March 03. Relatives told Dawn they had waited two weeks before expressing their fears, in case he had gone into isolation because of the coronavirus outbreak. (Source: BBC)