ISLAMABAD: Jang and Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest in a 34 years old property case is among the “most urgent” cases of threats to Press Freedom.
TIME says that as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world, some prisons and detention facilities have become hot spots for virus outbreaks. For some journalists imprisoned on charges related to their work, this means COVID-19 has become even more life-threatening.
Pointing out the Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief’s arrest, the world’s distinguished magazine says that “to silence criticism of pandemic preparedness, government targets broadcast outlet and its CEO.”
TIME says the Editor-in-Chief of Jang Media Group, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, was arrested on March 12 over a case involving allegations that he illegally acquired land in 1986. The next day, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority ordered cable distributors throughout the country to stop transmitting Geo TV, which is owned by the Jang Media Group and is the nation’s largest TV news channel, or move its broadcasts to a higher, harder-to-find channel. Despite no charges filed, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was denied bail on April 7.
The list is maintained monthly by the One Free Press Coalition, a collective of nearly 40 news organisations, including TIME.
Ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the One Free Press Coalition calls for the immediate release of all jailed journalists. “In light of the threat posed by coronavirus, their freedom is now a matter of life or death,” says the coalition in a statement.
Other nine cases of journalists on May’s list are 1. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Abdulkhaleq Amran, Akram al-Waleedi, Hareth Hameed and Tawfiq al-Mansouri (Yemen), 3. Mahmoud al-Jaziri (Bahrain), 4. Solafa Magdy (Egypt), 5. Darvinson Rojas (Venezuela), 6. Truong Duy Nhat (Vietnam), 7. Elena Milashina (Russia), 8. Yayesew Shimelis (Ethiopia), 9. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia).