Foreign journalist and senior program consultant for Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Steven Butler was stopped by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) at the Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore for eight hours on Thursday.
Butler, who had come to attend the Asma Jahangir Conference, was told by the immigration officials that he was stopped because his name was on the stop list of the interior ministry.
The authorities had contacted the ministry of interior while the journalist was kept under questioning for eight hours and was later allowed to enter after approval from the interior ministry.
According to reports, the journalist after being deported from Pakistan in 2019, was added to the stop list during the PTI government.
Rights organizations have criticized Pakistani authorities for denying entry to a member of a leading media organization.
Joel Simon, CPJ’s Executive Director, has said in a statement, “Pakistani authorities’ move to block Steven Butler from entering the country is baffling and is a slap in the face for those concerned about press freedom in the country.”
The matter was condemned by senior Pakistani journalists as well. Mazhar Abbas said that detaining Steve Butler at Lahore Airport was shameful. He also said that Butler had a valid visa that was issued to him by Pakistan Embassy in Washington.