Washington, D.C., March 12, 2020 — Pakistani authorities should immediately release Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, the CEO, owner, and editor-in-chief of the Jang Media Group, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau arrested Shakil-ur-Rehman today over a case involving allegations that he illegally leased land in 1986, according to news reports. Jang Media Group owns Pakistan’s largest TV news channel, the Urdu-language GEO News, and several prominent newspapers, include the Urdu Daily Jang and the English The News International.
“Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau should immediately release Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman and drop the obviously drummed-up case against him,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “This arrest over a 34-year-old land deal makes a mockery of Pakistan’s claim to be a democracy that upholds freedom of the press.”
A Jang Media Group spokesperson told The News International that the National Accountability Bureau had threatened reporters, producers, and editors over the media group’s coverage of the bureau, and had threatened to use the country’s media regulator to shut down its broadcast channels.
CPJ emailed the National Accountability Bureau for comment but did not immediately receive a response.