News International review

Biggest Pakistani media mogul acquitted of graft charges

A court in Pakistan acquitted the country’s biggest media mogul of corruption charges over a land acquisition three decades ago. International rights activists said the prosecution was an attempt to curtail freedom of the press in the country.

Reuters agency reports.

Almost two years of litigation took to prove the innocence of Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman.

– There is no supportive material with the prosecution to prove involvement of the accused, – the court said in its ruling.

The businessman was arrested in March 2020 on charges of obtaining illegal property concessions from a previous government in 1980s. In November of the same year, Rehman was released on bail.

Rehman is the editor-inchief of the Jang media group and runs the popular local television channel Geo News.

Non-governmental organization, the Committee to Protect Journalists, defended Rehman. Rights activists said the prosecution of Rehman amounted to an attack on press freedom.

The government denies the charges .

At the same time, Prime Minister Imran Khan has long accused Rehman’s media group of supporting his main rival, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistani journalists complain about media crackdown after Imran Khan came to power. According to Reuters, over  3,000 Pakistani journalists have been out of work since 2018.