A drone activist who was kidnapped from his home last week has been freed, his lawyer said on Friday, adding he had been tortured and interrogated.
Kareem Khan was picked up from his home on the outskirts of Islamabad on Feb. 5 by around 20 men, some in police uniform, just days before he was due to testify before European parliamentarians about U.S. drone attacks. He was bundled into a van blindfolded and pushed off onto the road in the early hours of Friday morning, in the Tarnol suburb of Islamabad, said his lawyer Shahzad Akber.
“He has been released,” Akber said. “His hands weren’t tied and he was able to remove his blindfold and took a taxi home after asking where he was.”
Though Khan was not able to identify the men who had detained him, a court on Wednesday had ordered the government to produce him by Feb. 20 or provide the reason for his detention.
Khan had been staying in the outskirts of Islamabad with his wife, children and an uncle ahead of a trip to Europe he was supposed to make last week. Akber described Khan as “pretty shaken up, tortured, beaten up, questioned, put in a cell, and handcuffed.”
“He was questioned about names and people in Waziristan. Many names he did not know about. He was questioned about his drone work, and was told not to speak to media otherwise they will come back for them,” he added.
Khan, who was also a drone investigator, was fighting a legal case in which he had named both the CIA’s former station chief and the Pakistani government for their roles in the U.S. drone campaign in the country’s tribal areas. Khan’s brother and teenage son were killed in a drone attack in their native North Waziristan in December 2009.
Pakistan last month passed a new law allowing its security forces to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days without disclosing their whereabouts or the allegations against them. The law appeared to be an attempt to give legal cover to the cases of so-called “missing persons,” suspects who disappear into custody of the security services with no information given to their relatives.