UN says rights envoy Jahangir released in Pakistan

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GENEVA, Nov 16 (Reuters) The United Nations' special investigator on freedom of religion or belief has been released from nearly two weeks of house arrest in Pakistan, a UN spokesman said today.

Asma Jahangir, who is also chairwoman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, had been detained along with other activists since Nov 3, when President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule.

''Our colleagues have spoken to her and confirmed her release. We are very happy,'' UN human rights spokesman Jose-Luis Diaz told a news briefing in Geneva.

Jahangir, 55, was detained at her home in Lahore on ''preventive grounds, not specific charges,'' another UN official said. ''It was to prevent her from going out onto the streets,'' he told Reuters.

Diaz told reporters: ''We hope that human rights defenders and others who have been imprisoned or detained for the peaceful expression of beliefs or exercising their activities (in Pakistan) will also be released immediately.'' UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour had issued public appeals for Jahangir's release. As an independent investigator, she reports to the UN Human Rights Council on worldwide violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief.

REUTERS ARB BST1920

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