A Pakistani journalist shot dead by police in Kenya last month was the victim of a “targeted killing”, a senior Pakistani government official said on Tuesday, without offering any evidence to support his claim.
Television journalist Arshad Sharif, a vocal critic of the Pakistani military, was killed on October 23 in a police shootout near the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that an initial assessment by a two-member fact-finding team that traveled to Kenya on behalf of the Pakistani government was “that Arshad Sharif was killed in a case of targeted killing”. More evidence is needed “to confirm all of this,” he said.
Sanaullah’s comments appear to contradict earlier accounts by Kenyan authorities that Sharif was shot dead by police responding to reports of a stolen vehicle in a case of mistaken identity.
Pakistan’s interior minister also accused Kenyan police of “non-cooperation” with the investigative team, saying “important data” about the case had not been handed over by Kenyan authorities. A formal request for the information has been submitted, he added.
Kenyan police told CNN they were not aware Pakistani officials had made any allegations of non-cooperation. “We have not received any such complaints, which if there are, will have to be made formally,” said Isohi Shioso, a police spokesman.
Shioso said the case is being handled by the Independent Police Oversight Authority. CNN has reached out to the watchdog for comment.
Sharif fled Pakistan in August after sedition charges were brought against him for allegedly criticizing state institutions and “fostering mutiny” within the military.
The accusations followed Sharif’s interview with opposition politician Shahbaz Gill, a close ally of Imran Khan, the ousted former prime minister who was shot last week under murky circumstances during a protest rally in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
After the interview, Pakistani police also charged Gill with sedition, alleging that he had made “anti-state comments”.
Sharif’s television news channel ARY initially claimed he was “being persecuted by the current regime” but later cut ties with the journalist after Pakistani media regulators shut it down for a month.
Earlier, a close friend of Sharif told CNN that the journalist had to “flee Pakistan in August to save his life”. He had initially gone to Dubai but was forced to flee again due to “harassment by Pakistani officials”, the associate said.
The associate said Sharif went to Kenya and had only been in the East African country a few weeks before his death.