Geo News sues ISI for defamation

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ISLAMABAD: Geo News has sued the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for defamation over accusations of being anti-state, it said on Friday.

Geo News, part of the privately-owned Jang Group, has also given the ISI 14 days to issue a public apology.

“Geo and Jang Group (have) served a legal notice on the Ministry of Defence, Inter-Services Intelligence and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority for defaming and maligning the group,” the channel said in a report published in a newspaper owned by the media house.

“More than 8,000 journalists, workers and professionals attached to the group and their families are not only being harassed but also attacked and tortured across Pakistan.”

The suing by Geo News was followed by a suspension of the channel’s license for 15 days along with a fine of Rs10 million.

Also read: Pemra suspends Geo News license for 15 days

In April, the defence ministry had demanded that the license of Geo News be suspended after it provided air space to journalist Amir Mir who accused the ISI for being behind the shooting of his brother Hamid Mir, one of Pakistan’s most famous television anchormen.

Since the dispute began, Geo News has been taken off the air in several parts of the country or been moved to obscure slots on the channel lineup by the cable operators, allegedly under pressure from the military, according to the lawsuit.

Distribution of the parent group’s newspapers has also been disrupted.

Last month, the channel apologised for the allegations in an attempt to resolve the issue.

But temperatures have failed to cool and in a lawsuit the channel has now asked the ISI to retract what it called its defamatory statements, publicly apologise and pay $500 million in damages.

A spokesman for the military was not immediately available for comment.

April’s shooting of Hamid Mir sent a chill through the journalists’ community weeks after television anchor Raza Rumi was attacked in Lahore. Rumi survived but his driver was shot dead.

No one has claimed responsibility for the recent assaults, although the Taliban, holed up in mountains on the Afghan border, have made repeated threats against domestic and foreign reporters for portraying the insurgency in a negative light.

DAWN

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