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Pakistan Suspends TV Channel Over Accusation Against Spy Agency

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan suspended the license of Geo TV after the defense ministry sought a ban on the news channel for airing comments that accused the country’s spy agency of involvement in an attack on a talk show host.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority ordered the closure of Geo for two weeks and imposed a 10 million-rupee fine, according to a statement. Soon after the April 19 attack on journalist Hamid Mir, Geo broadcast comments alleging that officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, were behind the attack.

“The authority further decided that in case of repeated violation by the said licensee, proceedings for the revocation of the license shall be initiated,” according to the statement. PEMRA field officials have been directed to implement the order immediately.

Geo and Jang Group, which owns the channel, are suing PEMRA, the defense ministry and ISI “for defaming and maligning the group by alleging it of working on an anti-Pakistan agenda,” The News, Geo’s sister publication, reported today, without citing anyone.

The row reflects the dominant role of Pakistan’s army and its powerful spy agency in domestic politics as well as key security policies. The army has ruled the country for more than half of its 67-year-old history and has resisted attempts by the past governments to exert control over ISI.

Geo News apologized to ISI nearly two weeks ago, saying that that the coverage that immediately followed the incident was “excessive, distressful and emotional.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Augustine Anthony in Islamabad at aanthony9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net Sunil Jagtiani

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