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Supreme Court of Pakistan to indict TV chief and anchor for contempt

UPDATE from IFJ: Pakistan suspends ARY News TV licence (21 October 2014)

This article was originally published on on 17 October 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in expressing deep concern over the legal course against ARY News channel's CEO and its anchor over a broadcasting of a program that challenged Pakistan's judiciary.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 13 decided to prosecute the chief executive of the private television network, Salman Iqbal, and the program anchor, Mubashir Lucman, indicting them for airing 'scandalous and defamatory programs against the judiciary'.

According to reports, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal observed that a talk on ARY 'Khara Such' aired on May 29, 2014 and the reply submitted by the channel on 'show cause' notice had enough ground to initiate contempt of court proceedings.

The court determined to frame the charge against the respondents on October 30. Both the respondents have to appear before the court in person to hear the charges. If convicted, the maximum punishment the respondents could get for committing contempt of the court will be six-month imprisonment.

The PFUJ said in a statement: "The legal proceeding must be confined within the law of the country but should not be used to threaten the media men [and stop] them from speaking the truth and making people aware [of] their constitutional right."

The statement further added: "The PFUJ would resist any such effort to snub the independence of the media & the right to speak the truth and would not compromise and let anyone shut down media organizations which are not only making people aware but are providing jobs to our colleague journalists to support their families, and ARY News is not an exception."

IFJ acting director, Jane Worthington, said: "Any legal action on media and journalists should follow proper legal procedure and it should not be based on biases against any media for their stance. We urge the Supreme Court of Pakistan to keep in view that any decision on such cases could have am impact on the future of freedom of expression in the country."

What other IFEX members are saying
  • CPJ calls on Pakistani government to restore ARY News

    [CPJ urges Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's] government to ensure the channel is immediately restored. Such action would be in keeping with the commitments you made to our delegation, when it visited Islamabad in March, to help improve press freedom in Pakistan.

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