Pakistan

Journalists, rights bodies condemn shrinking media freedom in Pakistan

FIA summons journalist Asad Toor in inquiry about 'defamation of govt institution'

Journalist bodies and human rights organisations on Monday condemned the move to take veteran journalist and TV show host Hamid Mir “off air”. Mir told BBC Urdu he had been informed by the Geo News management that he would “not go on air on Monday” to host his five-days-a-week show Capital Talk.

Although there was no official comment from Geo News, sources from the channel’s management confirmed to Dawn.com that Mir has been sent on forced leave for some time.

The TV channel’s administration had earlier confirmed the same to BBC Urdu, which quoted officials as saying that Mir would not host his talk show from Monday (today) and that “he has been sent on leave for some time”.

As the news continued to make rounds on social media, condemnations by rights bodies followed, including from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Amnesty International South Asia and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) — all of which were shared by Mir on his official Twitter account.

PFUJ strongly condemned the “ban” on Mir, saying: “The Geo management should let the journalist fraternity know what prompted them to take such a decision within 72 hours of Hamid Mir’s speech in front of the National Press Club on Friday where he condemned non-democratic forces for lodging attacks on media persons and Asad Toor.”

However, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry made a statement in which he said that airing someone is a internal matter of any organization.

Moreover, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday issued a summons to journalist and YouTuber Asad Ali Toor to appear before it and record his statement in an inquiry regarding “defamation” of a government institution through social media.

A notice titled ‘Order for attendance under Section 160 CrPC for recording of statement’, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was sent to Toor’s Islamabad residence by the FIA Cyber Crime Reporting Centre in Rawalpindi.

It said FIA Cyber Crime Rawalpindi was conducting an inquiry regarding “defamation of institution of Government of Pakistan through social media” on the complaint of one Fayyaz Mehmood Raja. The notice dated May 31 did not specify which institution the inquiry concerned.

“The available facts suggest that you are well aware of the facts/circumstances of said inquiry,” it read.

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