World Bulletin / News Desk
A court in Pakistan on Wednesday ordered authorities to produce an anti-drone activist abducted just days before he was due to travel to Europe to meet lawmakers, in a case that spotlights citizens' distrust of the unmanned aircraft and government security forces.
A former military ruler has acknowledged he permitted drone flights, however, and many Pakistanis believe the government is still complicit in their use.
Judge Malik Shahzad Ahmed Khan ordered the Interior Ministry to produce activist Kareem Khan in court on Feb. 20 in the city of Rawalpindi, said Shahzad Akbar, the activist's lawyer.
"I'd like to know he's at least safe," Akbar, a prominent anti-drone campaigner, told Reuters. "But my suspicion is that they will come back and say we don't have him."
It is not clear whose custody Khan is in. Police told the court they did not have him, raising the possibility he is being held by Pakistan's shadowy military intelligence agency. Hundreds of Pakistanis are being held in secret prisons and many have been there years without trial.
Khan was taken from his home on Feb. 5 by around a dozen men in police uniforms who bundled him into a police vehicle in front of his wife, children and neighbours, Akbar said.
Khan had been due to travel to Europe on Friday to meet British, German and Dutch lawmakers to talk about the effects of drone strikes on Pakistan, human rights group Amnesty International said in a statement.
Khan's brother and son were killed in a US drone attack in December 2009. He was suing both the CIA and the Pakistani government over the deaths in Pakistani court.
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At least 10 bodies were seen around the base, but it was not immediately possible to determine the number of fatalities