Mohammad Ali  /  AP
French journalists Marc Epstein, left, and Jean-Paul Guilloteau leave a Karachi court on Saturday after being sentenced for visa violations.
updated 1/10/2004 9:02:35 AM ET 2004-01-10T14:02:35

A Pakistani court on Saturday sentenced two French journalists to six months in prison for a visa violation after they traveled to an area near the Afghan border without official permission.

The men, Marc Epstein and Jean-Paul Guilloteau, a reporter and photographer working for the French L'Express magazine, also were fined $1,750 each.

Judge Nuzhat Ara Alvi ruled that the men had violated Pakistan's immigration laws by traveling to the southwestern city of Quetta without permission.

Defense lawyer Nafees Sadiqui said the Frenchmen would appeal the verdict. Both journalists were sent to jail in Karachi after the hearing.

Police say the Frenchmen's visas only allowed travel to the capital of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Pakistani officials also have said that the Frenchmen were involved in making a fake documentary, showing Taliban rebels sneaking into Pakistan from Afghanistan - a sensitive issue here - but they were not charged with any other offense.

The two journalists were arrested Dec. 16 in this southern port city along with a Pakistani journalist, Khawar Mehdi Rizvi, who was working with them and is still believed to be in custody.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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