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Pashtun Rights Leader In Pakistan Released On Bail

FILE: Manzoor Pashteen
FILE: Manzoor Pashteen

A court in Pakistan on February 15 ordered the release of a Pashtun leader, weeks after he was arrested on sedition charges.

A lawyer for Manzoor Pashteen told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that his client had been granted bail and ordered released.

Pashteen was arrested in the northwestern city of Peshawar early on January 27 on five charges, including criminal conspiracy and sedition.

The 28-year-old Pashteen is the leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which defends the rights of Pashtuns in Pakistan, the country’s largest ethnic minority.

The PTM has voiced criticism of the Pakistani military’s operations in the northwestern tribal regions.

His detention was condemned both in Pakistan and abroad, including by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

"The authorities should stop using abusive colonial-era laws criminalizing speech to clamp down on critics of the government," Human Rights Watch said on January 27.

Protests calling for the release of Pashteen were held across Pakistan as well as Afghanistan, Europe, and the United States.

In a post on Twitter, Mohsin Dawar, a Pakistani parliamentarian and PTM leader, expressed his thanks to all who had called for Pashteen’s release.