Who Should Care if Reporters Are Harassed? You.

On Feb. 17, members of Pakistan's secret service, the ISI, broke into the offices of the News, the country's most-influential English-language daily, according to the newspaper's former editor.

The government was upset with a story the News had planned to run the next day, the editor, Shaheen Sehbai, told ABCNEWS.

Late that same night, or early the following morning, Sehbai says he also got a call from the government's chief information officer demanding they pull the story.

When he refused, the information officer asked the publisher of the News to fire Sehbai. The government also pulled all its advertising from the News and its sister publications.

But in a little more than a week, Sehbai himself resigned. It had only been days since the world learned about Daniel Pearl, the American reporter who was kidnapped and killed while trying to pursue a story about Islamic militants.

Sehbai, a veteran journalist with over three decades of experience, knew there was a possibility he might meet a similar fate. Three weeks ago, he arrived in the United States fearing for his safety — and vowing to fight another day.

Untold Sacrifices

For thousands of journalists around the world, Sehbai's dilemma is far from unique.

Thousands of his colleagues regularly face the threat of beatings, arrests, censorship and harassment — and sometimes even death — for their work.

Click here to read about some of the more press-unfriendly nations of the world.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 600 journalists or their news organizations were attacked in 2001. Another 118 are in jail for their work.

The CPJ says 37 journalists were killed in the line of duty last year — but very few were covering combat. Most were murdered in reprisal for their reporting on corruption and crime.

Daniel Pearl may have given special attention to the dangers regularly faced by journalists, but the lists of casualties issued by organizations like CPJ and Reporters Sans Frontieres every year are seldom noticed.

Many of the affected journalists are from countries like Algeria and Colombia, areas that are sparsely covered to begin with.

But journalists from these ranks say their stories and their lives do matter — not only because they are searching for the truth, but also because their work may have an effect on the war against terror.

The world's renewed vigilance against terror has reduced the value of press freedoms, exactly at the time they should be treasured, they said.

Implications for the War on Terror

In Sehbai's case, the story that brought him to blows with the government was directly related to the war on terror.

The story he refused to suppress was a confessional statement given by Sheik Ahmed Omar Saeed, the Islamic militant accused of masterminding the plot against Daniel Pearl.

In that statement, Saeed asserted that he also had a role in last December's terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament.

The article also linked Saeed to Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI. According to the newspaper report, he told investigators that ISI operatives helped him finance and plan the attack.

In other words, he linked a key American ally in the war on terror with an act of terror itself. Subsequent reports by American media outlets have also hinted at links between Saeed and at least rogue elements of the ISI.

The Pakistani government has denied such allegations, calling them wild and baseless.

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