PETALING JAYA: A Pakistani “agent” had allegedly come looking for missing journalist Syed Fawad Ali Shah’s laptop at his Kuala Lumpur home after he was detained, his family lawyer P Waytha Moorthy said.
Fawad, who has been in exile in Malaysia for over 10 years to escape alleged persecution in his home country, has been missing since Aug 23.
In an open letter to immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud, Waytha said according to Fawad’s wife, the alleged agent had requested for Fawad’s laptop from his housemate a few days after he was detained.
FMT has reached out to the police over this latest claim.
Waytha said Fawad was believed to have been detained by the immigration department at a Petronas station near Lucky Garden, Bangsar, on Aug 23, 2022 based on information supplied by Fawad’s wife, Syeda.
“My client has been speaking to the investigating officer at the Brickfields police station over the phone from Pakistan since August and the officer had confirmed that Fawad was detained by your department,” the letter read.
“There has been no contact between Fawad and his wife since Aug 23. There was apparently a Pakistani agent who went to Fawad’s house a few days after he was detained to request for Fawad’s laptop from his housemate.”
Waytha said the silence from the immigration department on the issue was deafening and he suspected something sinister in the whole saga.
He told Khairul to state whether Fawad was being detained by his department currently and if so to release him immediately.
“We demand that you make a public statement within the next 48 hours, failing which we would seek your immediate removal from office,” he said.
Fawad, 41, who holds a refugee card issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), had sought asylum in Malaysia for alleged persecution in Pakistan over articles published in several English dailies there related to alleged government corruption.
International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Fawad’s disappearance was extremely disturbing, adding that Pakistan’s harassment of journalists who were critical of its regime was well noted. It is placed 157 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.
It said if Fawad was allowed back to his home country, Malaysia would be an accomplice to Pakistan’s persecution of journalists and this would impact Malaysia’s score in the 2023 press freedom index.
Meanwhile, a source from the foreign ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told FMT that Fawad had not been detained or deported.
FMT has contacted the police, the immigration department and Wisma Putra for comment.