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Pakistan police file complaint against journalists protesting media controls

[JURIST] Pakistani police Tuesday issued a "preliminary complaint" against approximately 200 journalists, opposition party members and pro-democracy activists who demonstrated outside the Pakistan parliament building Monday evening protesting an emergency media ordinance in defiance of a government ban on unauthorized rallies [JURIST report] issued late last week by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website]. The ordinance gave the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PMRA) [official website] authority to suspend broadcasting licenses of radio and television stations found to violate the law and allowed authorities to physically seal the stations' facilities and increases the fines for violations from $16,665 to $166,650. AP has more.

Also Monday, opposition members and police officials confirmed the detention of more than 60 activists so as to prevent alleged "law-and-order problems." Media outlets have complained of growing government pressure [JURIST report] not to provide live coverage of rallies in support of suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive]. Many Pakistani lawyers and opposition leaders believe Chaudhry's suspension to be an assault on the independence of the country's judiciary and an indirect bid by Musharraf to continue his eight-year rule in an election year. AP has more.

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