RSF calls for media owner’s release after threat by PM Imran Khan

 LONDON: Global press freedom watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) has called for the immediate release of Jang group editor in chief, Mir Shakil ur Rehman who has been kept in NAB’s illegal custody for over 240 days. 

In a press release which was sent to journalists and published on their website, RSF held that Pakistan had fallen to the 145th position in the Global Press Freedom Index, ranking below nations like Uganda, Chad and even Afghanistan. 

Daniel Bastard, who serves as the Head of the Asia Pacific desk at the Paris based RSF (Reporters sans frontières) said: “We urge the supreme court’s judges to display good sense and independence by ordering Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s immediate release and dismissing the charges against him,”

Daniel held that the judicial system in Pakistan had been manipulated outrageously to make Mir Shakil ur Rehman pay for his staff’s editorial freedom. 

“It is time for Pakistan’s judiciary to demonstrate its autonomy by reaffirming the primacy of media freedom over governmental pressure,” Daniel added. 

Mir Shakil ur Rehman has been accused of minor irregularities in a 34-year-old property case which has been previously investigated by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). 

LDA found no wrongdoing in the case but NAB’s lawyers have strongly contested MSR’s bail.  

MSR’s lawyer, Faisal Siddiqui, told RSF that NAB was continuing to press the case against Jang group editor in chief Mir Shakil ur Rehman. 

MSR’s bail has been denied twice by the Lahore High Court but an appeal hearing is scheduled for the Supreme Court on 9 November. 

RSF stated that: “The Jang group, whose media outlets including The News, a leading daily newspaper, and the Geo TV network, has long been targeted by the authorities because its journalists don’t content themselves with reproducing the government’s anodyne statements and promises and because they dare to tackle stories that are supposed to be off limits.” 

Previously, The South Asia Democracy Watch wrote to The White House, the Secretary of State, and members of the Senate and House members of the Foreign Relations Committee condemning the illegal confinement of Jang/Geo group Editor-in-Chief.

The US State Department, the European Union and the German government have also raised the question as to why Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been arrested without being charged with any crime.

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest has also caused an outcry in Pakistan as well as in international forums leading to protests in major cities of Pakistan and global capitals including London and Brussels. 

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