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Sajid Hussain disappeared on March 2.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) suspects that a Pakistani journalist who has been missing for a month in Sweden was abducted "at the behest" of an intelligence agency in Pakistan.

Sajid Hussain, the editor of the Balochistan Times news website, went missing in the Swedish city of Uppsala on March 2, according to the website, which covered human right violations and other aspects of the situation in the southwestern Pakistani region.

"Considering the recent attacks and harassment against other Pakistani journalists in Europe, we cannot ignore the possibility that his disappearance is related to his work," Erik Halkjaer, the president of RSF's Swedish section, said in a statement on March 30.

Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said that "everything indicates that this is an enforced disappearance," adding, "And if you ask yourself who would have an interest in silencing a dissident journalist, the first response would have to be the Pakistani intelligence services."

The Balochistan Times "often crossed the 'red lines' imposed by the military establishment in Islamabad," according to the Paris-based media-freedom watchdog.

Meanwhile, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also urged Swedish police to step up efforts to find Hussain

"The disappearance of a journalist who focused on one of Pakistan's most sensitive issues -- human rights in Balochistan -- and who escaped Pakistan because of threats he received, is especially concerning," said Steven Butler, CPJ's Asia program coordinator.

Hussain fled Pakistan in 2012 after receiving threats related to his reporting, and lived in exile in several countries before seeking asylum in Sweden in 2017, according to news reports.

No one has heard from Hussain since he boarded a train in Stockholm on March 2 to go to Uppsala, 70 kilometers north of the Swedish capital, to collect the keys to his new apartment and leave some personal effects there, RSF said.

It quoted local police as saying that Hussain, who has political-refugee status in Sweden, did alight from the train in Uppsala 45 minutes after it left Stockholm.

Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

Successive Pakistani governments and the powerful military have been accused for years of censoring the media.

The country is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

ZDNet reported that the user who put the file on the hacker forum claimed it was from an official voter-registration portal.

An anonymous user on a hacker forum has shared the names and other personal data of millions of Georgian nationals, according to data-breach monitors and an IT-news website.

The database leak on March 28 comes roughly seven months before the South Caucasus country's next parliamentary elections, although it was said to have been originally shared to a "niche" hacker community nine years ago.

In addition to names, it includes addresses, ID numbers, birthdates, and mobile-phone numbers, according to ZDNet, a specialist IT news site.

Georgia's Interior Ministry said it is investigating the case.

Georgia's population is estimated at around 4 million people, but the database was said to have included the details of "4,934,863 Georgians."

The data included deceased citizens, ZDNet said.

It did not appear to have been updated since the original leak in 2011, according to Under The Breach, the data-breach-monitoring and -prevention service that discovered its weekend reappearance and tweeted about its existence.

There was no confirmation of the data's authenticity by Georgian authorities.

The Central Election Commission said it was not their data, which it said includes information on 3.5 million voters and has no deceased individuals. The commission also said it did not collect the names of individuals' fathers -- which reportedly appeared on the leaked list.

"The database got shared on a cybercrime forum, free of charge under the category of a 'leak', the actor who leaked it gave a download link to the actual database which contained the information about the Georgian people," Under The Breach told RFE/RL in a March 30 e-mail.

Under The Breach said they had not noticed the original leak "because it didn't surface to large hacking forums."

ZDNet reported that the user who put the 1.04-gigabyte file on the hacker forum claimed it was from an official voter-registration portal that was down at the time its article was being prepared.

"This is similar to a lot of Russian databases which aren't getting leaked in large forums but in small Russian hacking communities because the rest of the hacking community don't really care about their leaks, mostly because they can't monetize those databases," Under The Breach told RFE/RL.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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