Channel takes anchor off air

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ISLAMABAD: Geo News television on Monday took Hamid Mir off-air, removing him as host of Capital Talk, a political talk show.

The development comes just days after Mir made a fiery speech at a rally in support of Asad Ali Toor, a vlogger who was beaten up outside his apartment in Islamabad.

The Jang Group did not comment on the changes regarding the five-days a week programme.

Journalists and press freedom advocates often accuse the government and its agencies of imposing restrictions on the media. The government has repeatedly clarified it supports freedom of speech.

The journalist tweeted that his removal was nothing new for him. “I was banned twice in the past,” said Mir, who had also in the past been fired by Geo News.

Geo News’ move drew swift condemnation by journalists, politicians, and members of civil society groups. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists asked the television station to explain whether the step was taken under government pressure.

Jang Group CEO Mir Shakilur Rehman was arrested last year in a decades-old case related to allegations of tax evasion in a real estate purchase. He was freed months later on a court order.

On Friday, Mir along with dozens of journalists attended a rally in Islamabad to condemn the attack on Toor. So far, authorities have not arrested anyone in connection with the attack and police say they are still investigating.