The detention of Jang and Geo Group Chief Editor Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year-old property case is among the “most serious” cases of threats to Press Freedom. The arrest was highlighted in the list of 10 most important cases by TIME magazine.
TIME says some jails and correctional centers have become hot spots for virus outbreaks, as the coronavirus continues to spread across the world. That means COVID-19 has become much more life-threatening for some journalists incarcerated on charges related to their work.
Pointing out the arrest of the Jang / Geo Editor-in-Chief, the world-renowned magazine reports that “to suppress criticism of pandemic preparedness, government threatens broadcast outlet and its CEO.”
TIME says Jang Media Group’s editor-in-chief, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, was arrested on 12 March on a case involving charges that he had unlawfully purchased land in 1986. The next day, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority ordered cable distributors across the country to stop broadcasting Geo TV, which belongs to the Jang Media Group and is the nation’s largest TV news channel, or switch their broadcasts to a higher, more difficult channel to find. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was denied bail on April 7, despite no charges filed.
One Free Press Alliance, a group of approximately 40 news organizations like TIME, holds the list monthly. The One Free Press Alliance is pressing for the unconditional release of all imprisoned journalists ahead of World Press Freedom Day on May 3. “In light of the coronavirus threat, their liberation is now a matter of life or death,” the coalition says in a statement.
Other nine on May’s list of journalists are 1. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Abdulkhaleq Amran, Hareth Hameed, Akram al-Waleedi, Tawfiq al-Mansouri (Yemen), 3. Mahmoud al-Jaziri (Germany), 4. Solafa Magdy (The Egyptians), 5. Rojas Darvinson (Venezuela), 6. Duy Nhat Truong (Vietnam), 7. Elena Milashina (Russia), eighth. Yayesew Shimelis (Ethiopia), September 9. Jamal Khashoggi (Arabia Saudia).