Press release

Reprieve statement on attack on Shahzad Akbar

“No one should have to live in fear that a knock on the door of their home means a horrendous attack like this, or have to flee their home country for standing against abuses of state power.

“Shahzad Akbar has fought tirelessly for people on death row and victims of drone strikes. It is a travesty that he has had to leave Pakistan amid a campaign of reprisals against him, most recently the abduction of his brother in an act of state sponsored hostage taking. 

“As a legal resident in this country, Shahzad has the right to live and work without intimidation or coercion, and the UK Government should make clear it will not stand for these kinds of chilling reprisals against human rights defenders on UK soil”.


Earlier this year, in an apparent episode of state hostage-taking, Shahzad’s brother Murad was abducted and held incommunicado for three months. A senior aide to Pakistan’s Prime Minister explicitly acknowledged that this was done to compel Shahzad to return home from the UK. 

A group of prominent figures, including senior MPs from both major parties, wrote to the UK Government asking it to do more to secure Murad’s release. The National Crime Agency is now assessing a criminal complaint in connection with the abduction.