- In early 1999, Sethi gave an interview to a team for the British Broadcasting Corporation television show Correspondent, which was planning to report on corruption in the Nawaz Sharif government.
- At the beginning of May, he was warned by contacts that his co-operation with the team was being interpreted by the Nawaz Sharif government as an attempt to destabilize it and that officials were planning Sethi’s arrest.
- On 8 May, he was taken from his home by personnel of Punjab Police.
- According to Sethi’s wife Mohsin, at least eight armed officers broke into the house, assaulting the family’s security guards; when asked to produce a warrant, one of them threatened simply to shoot Sethi on the spot. Mohsin was tied up and left locked in another room.
- Sethi was then held for almost a month without charge. He was kept incommunicado at a detention center in Lahore.
- Amnesty International stated its belief that his arrest was connected with his investigations into government corruption, and designated him a prisoner of conscience