Saturday May 02, 2020
Jang Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman's arrest has been termed as the 8th most urgent case in the threat to press freedom, according to a list compiled by the "One Free Press Coalition", a body comprising nearly 40 news organizations including acclaimed American news website, TIME.
The "10 'Most Urgent' Cases of Threats to Press Freedom in the Age of Coronavirus" list features prominent journalists from around the globe jailed for carrying out their duties and as a result, are at great risk from the life-threatening coronavirus infection in prisons.
In Pakistan and around the world, there have been calls by rights groups and the judiciary to release prisoners after jails were declared potential coronavirus hotspots.
“In light of the threat posed by coronavirus, their freedom is now a matter of life or death,” said the coalition in a statement.
"To silence criticism of pandemic preparedness, government targets broadcast outlet and its CEO," read the article about MSR. It mentioned how Geo TV's transmission was stopped throughout the country a day after his arrest.
"The next day, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority ordered cable distributors throughout the country to stop transmitting Geo TV, which is owned by Jang Media Group and is the nation’s largest TV news channel or move its broadcasts to a higher, harder-to-find channel," it said. "Despite no charges filed, Shakil-ur-Rehman was denied bail on April 7. The channel has criticized the government’s coronavirus preparations."
MSR was arrested on March 12 by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over trumped-up charges relating to property bought from a private entity more than three decades ago.