Pakistani authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Imran Riaz Khan, whose whereabouts are unknown, and stop harassing and detaining members of the press for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Tuesday.

On March 1, the journalist—whose current affairs YouTube channel Imran Riaz Khan has some 4.6 million subscribers—was freed on bail in a corruption case and re-arrested hours later, on separate terrorism charges, outside a court in the eastern city of Lahore, according to multiple media reports and Azhar Siddique, one of Khan’s lawyers, who spoke to CPJ.

“Pakistan authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Imran Riaz Khan and stop detaining journalists in retaliation for their work or commentary,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi. “The detention of Khan and other outspoken journalists highlights the systematic crackdown on the press. Newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif must end this relentless campaign of intimidation against the media once and for all.”

On Sunday, Pakistan lawmakers elected Sharif as prime minister for a second term, following the February 8 national elections, which were marred by claims of vote-rigging and delayed results. He held the same position between April 2022 and August 2023.

An anti-terrorism court ordered that Khan be held for five days in police custody, until March 6, pending investigation, according to a court order, reviewed by CPJ. The police then transferred Khan to an unknown location outside Lahore, according to Siddique and a journalist familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.

Khan was accused of attacking police officials and damaging government vehicles on March 14, 2023, at a protest by supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore, according to Siddique, who described the case as “fake and fabricated.”

Khan was at the scene reporting for BOL News, for which he was a news anchor at the time, Faysal Aziz Khan, BOL Network’s President and Chief News Officer, told CPJ via messaging app.

The court ordered that the journalist be remanded in police custody on the basis of a March 2023 police first information report—a document opening an investigation—involving charges of stone-pelting, throwing petrol bombs, and intervening in state matters, according to his lawyer Siddique, who said that neither he nor his client had received a copy of the report.

Khan faces a separate case involving allegations of a corrupt land deal, after police arrested him on February 22 in a night raid on his Lahore home and seized his personal devices, according to news reports and the journalist familiar with the case. Khan was freed on bail on March 1, before his re-arrest later that day on terrorism charges.

Prominent Pakistani anchor Hamid Mir told CPJ that he believed Khan’s recent interview with the BBC played a role in his arrest.

In a BBC documentary “Pakistan: Journalists Under Fire,” released on February 16, Khan said that he was held in solitary confinementwithout access to a lawyer for 142 days after he was arrested in May 2023 at Punjab’s Sialkot Airport.

The journalist’s 2023 arrest came amid a crackdown on supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan—who was ousted after a no-confidence vote in 2022 and jailed in 2023 on corruption charges—and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

Khan, who hosts PTI supporters on his talk show and posts pro-PTI content on his YouTube channel, was previously arrested in July 2022 and February 2023 in relation to his political commentary.

Khan was summoned by the Federal Investigation Agency’s cybercrime wing in January and February for questioning over alleged involvement in an anti-judiciary campaign.

Police in Punjab province, of which Lahore is the capital city, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment via email.

Separately, independent journalist Asad Ali Toor remains in custody more than a week after his February 26 arrest by the Federal Investigation Agency’s cybercrime wing. The agency had summoned Toor, who covers political affairs on his YouTube channel, for questioning.