US Commission calls for release of Christian accused of blasphemy
Tomorrow Pakistan's Supreme Court could decide to release on bail Christian Nadeem Samson, a herbalist accused of blasphemy in 2017 and in prison since then. Anurima Bhargava, of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (Uscirf), called on the Pakistani government to grant his unconditional release.
Sanson was unjustly accused of blasphemy and then imprisoned after a in dispute over the payment of a rental deposit: according to the agreements, Nadeem would have paid the owner of the house, Sakhawat Dogar, 4 thousand dollars (over 3,500 euros) to stay a year and a half in a house in the Match Factory area of Shahdara, near Lahore. When the Christian gave notice in 2017 and asked for the money back, Dogar refused to return the bail as agreed and accused Sanson of blasphemy.
To make the charges credible, the Muslim contacted Nadeem's cousin, Abdul Huq, who works as a police informant and who had managed to stage a fake kidnapping case to get Samson jailed a first time 18 years ago.
Abdul Huq Huq created a fake Facebook account using his cousin's phone number retrieved from his herbalist's website. At that point, posing as Nadeem, Abdul Huq wrote a series of messages insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Police later raided Nadeem's home, handcuffed him, and linked the fake Facebook account to his cell phone and laptop. They then tortured tortured him to make him confess that he wrote the blasphemous messages on social media. A few days later, in cahoots with the police, Sakhawat Dogar and a group of local Muslims burned Nadeem's belongings, including his rental agreement documents and proof of payment.
The Christian was jailed on November 29, 2017, four days after an initial information report was filed against him. He was repeatedly beaten and tortured during the time frame, to the point that he was in critical condition when he entered prison.
In anticipation of the Christmas season, Nadeem's family members hope that by tomorrow's hearing he will be released. For fear of retaliation and threats, Christian relatives are hiding or have moved to other countries.
HRWF Database of 28 Christian behind bars in Pakistan on alleged blasphemy charges. See details here on HRWF website.
- Muhammad ASGHAR (Pretrial detention)
- Noman ASGHAR (Death penalty)
- Malik ASHRAF (Death penalty)
- Amoon AYUB (Death penalty)
- Qaisar AYUB (Death penalty)
- Zafar BHATTI (Life in prison)
- Hajaj BIN (6 years)
- Humayun FAISAL (Pretrial detention)
- Pastor Aftab GILL (6 years and 6 months)
- Malik MOHAMMAD FAROOQ (Life in prison)
- Soofi ISHAQ (Death sentence)
- Nadeem JAMES (Death penalty)
- Abdul KAREEM (Life in prison)
- Anwar KENNETH (Death sentence)
- Shafeeq LATIF (Death penalty)
- Anwar MASIH (Pretrial detention)
- Imran MASIH (Life in prison)
- Ishfaq MASIH (Pretrial detention)
- Sohail MASIH (Pretrial detention)
- Patras MASIH (Pretrial detention)
- Sajjad MASIH (Death penalty)
- Shahbaz MASIH (Pretrial detention)
- Shehzad MASIH (Pretrial detention)
- Stephen MASIH (Pretrial detention)
- Yaqoob Bashir MASIH (Death penalty)
- Sunny MUSHTAQ (Pretrial detention)
- Asif PERVAIZ (Pretrial detention)
- Nadeem SAMSON (Pretrial detention)