Several prominent public figures in Britain have urged Pakistan to release the brother of a human rights lawyer who served as an adviser to ousted former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The appeal from former U.K. Cabinet ministers, senior law officers, renowned journalists and legal rights organizations was made on Wednesday evening. It comes after this week’s arrest of Murad Akbar, the brother of attorney Shahzad Akbar.
The lawyer, who is currently not in Pakistan, days ago tweeted that his brother was taken by security forces who raided his house. Pakistani authorities have neither confirmed nor denied that Murad Akbar was in their custody.
“We call on Pakistani authorities to immediately release Murad Akbar, who we believe is arbitrarily detained and at risk of torture, disappearance and death,” said the joint statement from Britain.
They said Murad Akbar has not been charged with any crime and “is a very vulnerable individual, who was under his family’s care after undergoing mental health issues for which he is receiving psychiatric treatment.”
His brother, Shahzad Akbar, is a renowned human rights defender and served as an adviser to Khan before the former cricket star turned Islamist politician was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last year.
Khan himself was detained last month, sparking violent protests. Since then, police have detained thousands of Khan’s followers for alleged involvement in the deadly turmoil. However, it was unclear on what charges the lawyer’s brother was detained.
On Thursday, a court in the eastern city of Lahore ordered the release of an unspecified number of Khan’s supporters taken into custody under a law in Pakistan that allows police to detain anyone for a month without an explanation. The ruling followed petition from several detainees, including senior leaders from Khan’s opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
It was unclear how many detainees would be affected by the decision or when they would be freed.