Freedom Network Rebuts False Allegations & Hate-Speech Targeted At It

Press Statement

ISLAMABAD, 07 June 2021: Freedom Network, a bona fide Pakistani organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), refutes the fake and scandalous charges by a Denmark-based vlogger that the organization’s website “is managed in India” with mala fide insinuations.

“This malicious and mala fide accusation has nothing to do with facts. Freedom Network is a legal entity and registered under Pakistani legal system with total compliance with policy and other regulatory mechanisms and laws,” the organization said in an official statement issued on June 7, 2021 in response to the groundless assumption by the vlogger Makhdoom Shahab.

Freedom Network’s website was also attacked and not accessible since June 6 and was restored the next day after some effort, according to the webmaster of the organization.

Independent internet and IT experts and news media reports contested the vlogger’s unproven but insidious allegations and shared details about Freedom Network’s website. A media report by BBC Urdu also rebutted the allegations and exposed the lack of knowledge and understanding of website domain registrations by the ill-informed vlogger.

Freedom Network is a rights advocacy organization that conducts research, trainings and advocacy with stakeholders, including federal and provincial governments, to strengthen rights to freedom of expression and access to information as enshrined in Articles 19 and 19-A of the Pakistani constitution. It recently worked with Sindh and federal governments and legislatures to develop bills on safety of journalists. Sindh has passed the law while the federal government tabled the bill in the National Assembly. The organization is also working with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and KP Assembly to table a similar law shortly.

Over a five-year period, Freedom Network has literally saved the lives of more than 150 journalists in Pakistan through a support program for journalists facing threats, attacks and intimidation. Over 170 journalists have been killed in Pakistan and more than 2,000 assaulted, injured, kidnapped, arrested or intimidated since 2000.

“Freedom Network serves Pakistan well through its efforts to prevent the country becoming more vulnerable and riskier than it already is for journalists and free speech practitioners as indicated by its poor rankings on global indexes on media freedoms by international media and democracy watchdogs, including Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, International Federation of Journalists,” the statement said.

“We pledge to continue supporting an enabling environment in Pakistan for media and freedom of expression practitioners, including digital rights, and stand by journalists Asma Shirazi, Hamid Mir and others who are being targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution, and we refuse to be deterred by hate-speech and false accusations by dubious detractors,” the statement said.

“Freedom Network thanks all the swift and extensive support it has received from leading media groups, media development organizations, journalists and citizens for calling out the vlogger who has a history of habitual falsehood and hate speech against journalists and human right activists and organizations that work for a democratic and pluralistic Pakistan,” the statement added.


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