ISLAMABAD — A prominent Pakistani television journalist who went missing after his arrest more than four months ago was freed Monday and returned home, police and his colleagues said.

It was widely believed that security agencies had held Imran Riaz Khan, who is known for publicly supporting jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The two men are not related.

Imran Riaz Khan was arrested at an airport in Sialkot city in Punjab province in May as he tried to leave Pakistan. The arrest followed him sharing a video message that said the space for him to do his job was shrinking and he was leaving the country so he could continue his professional work.

His relatives said after his arrest that they were unable to determine his whereabouts and feared he had been abducted. Pakistan's security agencies are notorious for holding people without producing them before the courts as required by law.

Police in Sialkot announced Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Khan had been “safely recovered” and was “now with his family.” They provided no further details.

Hamid Mir, another prominent TV journalist, confirmed that Khan had reached his home in Lahore. Khan's lawyer, Mian Ali Ashfaq, also confirmed his client's freedom on social media but didn't say where he had been.

No one has claimed responsibility for abducting Khan. The international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders and Pakistan's journalist community had demanded his release.

Khan has more than 5 million followers on X and is highly popular among supporters of the former prime minister who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022 and is now the country’s leading opposition figure.

The ex-premier was arrested in August on corruption charges and received a three-year prison sentence, which was later suspended, though he remains in the Attock prison in the eastern Punjab province.

However, a court in Islamabad asked authorities Monday to transfer him to the Adiyala prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where better facilities are available for high-profile officials and politicians. It was not immediately clear when he would be moved.

Before his arrest, the former prime minister had campaigned for the release of the TV journalist, who had written extensively about and produced TV shows in support of Imran Khan before he disappeared.

Imran Khan's party, Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf, welcomed the journalist's release.

Last Thursday, agents from the Federal Investigation Agency arrested an Islamabad-based TV anchor, Khalid Jamil, who is known for criticizing the authorities, on charges of spreading false information about state institutions on social media.

Pakistan has long been an unsafe country for journalists. In 2020, it ranked ninth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Global Impunity Index, which assesses countries where journalists are harassed and killed without the assailants being held accountable.

In recent years, activists and journalists have increasingly come under attack by the government and the security establishment, restricting the space for a free press, criticism and dissent.

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