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World

April 28, 2020

European journalists, media outlets, activists call for MSR's immediate release

World

Tue, Apr 28, 2020
(Top, L-R) Gie Goris, Dr Ahmed Frassini, Asim Rafiqui, and Dr Ewout Klei; (Bottom, L-R) Marjan Lucas, Maria Laura Franciosi, Antje Stiebitz, and Lailuma Sadid

BRUSSELS: Multiple journalists, media outlets, top personalities from arts and culture, and human rights activists from Europe have condemned the illegal detention of Jang Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman (MSR), who was detained on March 12 by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in relation to a property he had purchased from a private party 34 years ago.

Leading European media outlets, including the Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) and Dutch magazine de Kanttekening, raised major questions in their articles about the 50 days of MSR's illegal detention.

In their pieces, the newspapers and broadcasters spoke up about the government's interference in civil affairs, interrogation methods adopted in such cases with trumped-up charges, arrests of the accused without proper investigation, charges despite MSR's co-operation with the NAB, and a gross violation of human rights.

At the same time, European intellectuals and journalists, as well as people associated with the arts and culture, have expressed solidarity with MSR, protested against his unjustified and illegal arrest, and demanded his immediate release.

The founding chair of the Brussels Press Club and former news editor at the Agenzia ANSA, Maria Laura Franciosi, said it was absolutely a condemnable act to arrest a newspaper editor-in-chief to pressurise editorial policies of their media outlet.

Antje Stiebitz, a culture journalist and South Asia correspondent at radio network Deutschlandfunk Kultur, also endorsed the calls for MSR's release.

Dr Ewout Klei, editor of the de Kanttekening magazine, describes in a detailed article how Geo TV and Jang Group face enormous pressure for such a long time and the arrest of its editor is a continuation of the policy to silence any independent and critical voice of journalism in Pakistan.

Marjan Lucas, a peace and human rights activist from the Netherlands, said Geo TV is great, independent voice of Pakistan.

The editor-in-chief of Belgian Mondiaal Nieuws (MO*) Magazine, Gie Goris, and Lailuma Sadid — an Afghan journalist in Brussels — demanded the immediate release of MSR.

Brussels-based Palestinian journalist and filmmaker Dr Ahmed Frassini said he was acutely aware of such intimidation tactics because he, himself, had faced similar actions against him in Israeli prisons.

Pakistani-Norwegian photojournalist Asim Rafiqui, whose work has appeared in the National Geographic, also urged the authorities to free MSR without delay.

It may be noted here that the Foreign Office of the European Union (EU) had earlier raised the issue of MSR's arrest with Islamabad, expressing concerns that the Jang Geo Media Group Editor-in-Chief might fall victim to the novel coronavirus due to carelessness and inattention just as the pandemic wreaked havoc in Pakistan and across the world.

The risk was exacerbated for MSR as more than 50% of the coronavirus victims are over the age of 65.