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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 19:22 GMT
Deported journalist 'uncovered collusion'
Justin Sutcliffe and Christina Lamb
Justin Sutcliffe and Christina Lamb fly home after their ordeal
A British journalist who was deported from Pakistan at the weekend says she believes the action may have been triggered by her discovery of collusion between some Pakistani army officers and the Taleban.

Sunday Telegraph reporter Christina Lamb said authorities which deported her gave no explanation and detained her for 18 hours without food.

She told BBC News Online she was kept in the dark about why she and photographer Justin Sutcliffe were sent home from Islamabad on Saturday.

It's a matter of huge concern that a country we are in alliance with in fighting for freedom, is treating people in such a barbaric manner

Christina Lamb

The pair had been detained by Pakistani authorities since the early hours on Friday in the border city of Quetta.

Ms Lamb, 35, said they were woken in their hotel in the middle of the night by five members of the military intelligence and two police officers.

'Not allowed to sleep or eat'

She said they were driven to a railway rest room and then flown to Islamabad, but not allowed to sleep, eat or make contact with Britain until they were sent home the next day.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has expressed concern about the deportation and plans to stay in contact with Ms Lamb about any further representations to Pakistan.

Ms Lamb said she had uncovered evidence of a covert operation by rogue elements in the Pakistani military intelligence service to smuggle arms to the Taleban.

But the deportation order vaguely described the reason as "acting in a manner prejudicial to the external affairs and security of Pakistan".

Ms Lamb said: "It's a matter of huge concern that a country we are in alliance with in fighting for freedom, is treating people in such a barbaric manner.

"To deport people without giving them any chance to answer any charge that they are supposed to have done is incredibly frustrating."

Osama Bin Laden
Miss Lamb denies booking a ticket in Bin Laden's name

The Sunday Telegraph is planning legal action against Pakistani newspapers that recently claimed the pair had booked an airline ticket from Quetta in the name of Osama Bin Laden.

Ms Lamb, who has a two-year-old son called Lorenzo, said that was not true and related to a throwaway remark she made to a travel agent who said she could book a flight under a false name.

She said she thought the airline ticket stories, which accused her of trying to prove Bin Laden was in Pakistan, were the pretext for the deportation.

Her son and husband in Portugal were worried about her safety after they were told by the hotel she had checked out in the middle of the night.

'I felt like a criminal'

Ms Lamb, who has been reporting in Pakistan since 1987, said her detention was very frightening and made her feel like a criminal.

She said she thought it was probably the result of her investigations into the allegedly pro-Taleban actions of the Pakistani military intelligence.

Ms Lamb told BBC News Online: "Even the spokesman for President Musharraf was shocked to hear about our experience and other senior government officials knew nothing about it.

"This begs the question 'Is he really in control of the military intelligence and who is actually running the country?'"

Sunday Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson said: "We have been given no reason for the deportations beyond the vaguest generalities.

Christina was simply carrying out her duties as a journalist

Dominic Lawson,
Sunday Telegraph editor

"Christina was simply carrying out her duties as a journalist."

Labour rebel MP Paul Marsden was on a fact-finding mission in Pakistan when Miss Lamb was detained.

She said he helped to raise the alarm about her plight and helped secure her freedom.

Ms Lamb said she wanted to return to Pakistan to continue her work as soon as possible.

See also:

05 Nov 01 | Media reports
Taleban jails 'full of political prisoners'
03 Nov 01 | South Asia
Taleban free French reporter
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