Court orders release of detained TV mogul

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s supreme court yesterday granted bail to the owner and editor-in-chief of country’s largest independent group of newspapers and television stations, months after his arrest in a decades-old case related to allegations of tax evasion in a real estate purchase.

Mir Shakilur Rehman’s release comes amid increasing pressure on journalists in Pakistan by state institutions and security agencies. Human rights workers, activists and members of civil society also have been targetted in recent years.

Rehman’s Jang Group of Newspapers, which includes Geo TV, has been critical of the government. He was arrested in March in the eastern city of Lahore by the National Accountability Bureau. The bureau is pursuing an over 30-year-old case against him over a land sale, one it acknowledges did not defraud the government at the time.

The terms of Rehman’s bail were not immediately known. Activists said the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, elected in 2018, has failed to protect freedom of speech in Pakistan.

Pakistani police officers escort Mir Shakilur Rehman owner of Jang Group of Newspapers to an anti-graft court in Lahore. PHOTO: AP