Musharraf ‘threatened’ Benazir before returning to Pak: US journalist

Islamabad, Oct 2: US journalist Mark Siegel on Oct 1 recorded his statement in the Benazir Bhutto murder case, testifying that the former prime minister was “threatened” by then military ruler Pervez Musharraf before she returned to the country.

According to local media, Siegel said in his statement that just days before her return from a self-imposed exile in Oct 2007, Musharraf called Benazir in the US and threatened her.

“Musharraf had told Benazir that her life would be in danger if she returns to Pakistan,” he said.
The journalist, who testified through a video link from Pakistan’s embassy in the US, said that his last meeting with the assassinated leader was in the US, before she left for Pakistan.

Siegel said that when Benazir reminded Musharraf that it was the responsibility of his government to provide security, she was told by Musharraf that the issue of “security depends on the political cooperation and understanding.”

“My last meeting with Benazir was at a hotel in Washington when she said that Musharraf is threatening her, but she will still travel to Pakistan,” he added.
The journalist-cum-lobbyist’s statement was recorded by the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi which is hearing the murder case of the former two-time prime minister.

Lawyer of Pervez Musharraf and prosecution team was present in the makeshift court room set up in the office of Rawalpindi Commissioner where the video link facility was available.
Siegel had earlier refused to travel to Pakistan to record the statement for security reasons. The cross examination of the statement will take place at a later stage.

Siegel was a personal friend of Benazir. It is reported that the Pakistan leader had sent him am email days before her murder with direction to make it public in case of her death.
Benazir Bhutto was killed in December 2007 as she was coming out of a park in Rawalpindi after addressing an election rally.