Pakistan authorities have deported an American journalist to Washington after he arrived at Lahore Airport to represent the global press freedom group the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Butler, the Asia Programme Coordinator for the global press freedom group, had plans to attend the Asma Jahangir Conference-Roadmap for Human Rights in Pakistan.
The group said that an immigration officer at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore told Butler that his journalist's visa is valid, but it was voided because his name was "on an Interior Ministry stop list ".
The committee added that the journalist's passport was also confiscated at Lahore airport and he was forced onto a flight to Doha, Qatar. When he arrived in Doha, authorities there, placed him on a flight to Washington.
Demanding a "full explanation" about the incident and correcting "this error", Joel Simon, the CPJ's executive director has said: "If the government is interested in demonstrating its commitment to a free press, it should conduct a swift and transparent investigation into this case."
The Pakistani government had no immediate comment.
Journalists and prominent people across the globe have questioned the attitude of the government and asked Prime Minister Khan to intervene in the incident.
"Anyone who ordered to stop entry of @StevenBButler and forced him to return to US is actually trying to tell the whole world that democracy in Pakistan is a fraud and all those who want to speak about #Press Freedom will not be tolerated-is this a new Pakistan of Imran Khan?" Pakistan's prominent journalist Hamid Mir wrote on Twitter.
We know the reason that why Govt of Pakistan refused entry of @StevenBButler and forced him to return to US his only crime was that he raised voice for #PressFreedom and wrote an article recently in @washingtonpost here is the article https://t.co/g06S4P444P— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) October 18, 2019
Amnesty International called the decision "an alarming sign that freedom of expression continues to be under attack" in Pakistan.
"Imran Khan boasts about the increased freedom of expression in Pakistan, and here Steven Butler of CPJ was denied entry to Pakistan despite a valid visa…These fascist acts bring a bad name to Pakistan not people like me," Pakistan's Human Right Activist Gulalai Ismail said.