WASHINGTON, D.C: The Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the Islamabad High Court (IHC)’s decision to indict Pakistani journalists Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Aamir Ghauri, and Ansar Abbasi, calling it a dangerous attack
on press freedom and freedom of expression.In a statement the CPJ said: “On December 28, 2021, the Islamabad High Court decided to indict Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner and editor-in-chief of the Jang Media Group; Aamir Ghauri, editor of The News International; and Ansar Abbasi, investigations editor of The News International, for criminal contempt of court in relation to a November 15 investigative report by Abbasi, according to The News, news reports, a statement by the Pakistan Press Foundation, and Abbasi, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
The report included the content of a notarized affidavit accusing the former chief justice of Pakistan [Saqib Nisar] of judicial interference in a corruption case involving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, according to those sources.”
The court appointed Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan as the prosecutor in the case to pursue charges and set an indictment date of January 7, when the court is scheduled to frame, or precisely inform, the nature of the contempt charges against the three journalists, according to those sources.
“The Islamabad High Court’s decision to indict journalists Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Aamir Ghauri, and Ansar Abbasi is a disturbing act of retaliation for reporting a matter of public interest,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator.
“The decision creates a dangerous judicial precedent that could lead to further retaliation against journalists who are simply doing their jobs.”
The CPJ called and emailed the Islamabad High Court and called and messaged Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan for comment but did not receive a reply.
Earlier on Dec 30, the CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator had tweeted “No journalist should face contempt charges for reporting a verified story. Pakistan boasts of press freedom. Freedom of the press means freedom to report the news.”