Human Rights Watch today expressed deep concern about the most recent arrest of an ethnic Albanian journalist in the war-torn province of Kosovo.

Musa Kurhasku, correspondent for the largest Albanian-language daily newspaper, Koha Ditore, was taken into police custody today around 3:00 p.m. from his home in Dakovica. Five policemen reportedly raided his home and confiscated articles, documents, his telephone book and telex machine.

According to the Koha Ditore editorial offices in Prishtina, Mr. Kurhasku had been summoned to the Dakovica police station Wednesday morning. The police allegedly told him to go to another city, Orahovac, in order to negotiate the release of an ethnic Serb who had been captured by members of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA). Mr. Kurhasku reportedly refused to go, saying that it was not a journalist’s responsibility to act as a broker or to do the work of the Red Cross. Although Human Rights Watch could not confirm this story, it is consistent with other reports of Serbian police ordering ethnic Albanian civilians to negotiate with the KLA.

Human Rights Watch called today for Mr. Kurhasku’s immediate release. The diplomatic missions of the Contact Group were also urged to apply pressure on the Yugoslav government to ensure his release and to guarantee full respect for freedom of the press.