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Pakistan lawyers slam independent TV shutdown as assault on free speech

[JURIST] Pakistani bar leaders have expressed dismay at the shutdown [Geo report] of Geo-TV [media website] and another independent Pakistani television channel, declaring the closures an unconstitutional violation of free speech contrary to Article 19 of the now-suspended national charter [text]. Geo and ARY Television [media website], which have been beaming their news programs from ground stations in Dubai since local broadcast was blocked in Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule, were asked by the UAE government to suspend their transmissions and did so early Saturday morning. Geo announced on its website that the channel was shut down “after President Pervez Musharraf put tremendous pressure [on Dubai] to silence a media outlet which had refused to bow down to his dictates.” Reporters Without Borders [advocacy website] condemned the closure of the stations and urged Dubai authorities to allow the news channels to resume broadcasting. In a statement [press release] Saturday, it called Musharraf's pressure against Dubai authorities "outrageous interference.”

Geo risked the wrath of the Musharraf regime earlier this year when it provided extensive coverage of events surrounding the suspension and eventual reinstatement of now-ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. The News has local coverage.

11/19/07 - Chaudhry told the News in an interview late Saturday that "In the presence of a strong judiciary, no such curbs on the media are possible." The News has more.

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