A Pakistani political party is demanding the New York Times (NYSE:NYT) apologize for a story by Islamabad bureau chief Declan Walsh in seven days or pay $10 million in damages.
Walsh, who was forced to leave Pakistan on the eve of national elections in May, has continued to cover the country in which he spent nine years reporting, but he has been filing stories with a London dateline.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a Karachi-based political party that has often turned to violence, denounced Walsh’s Sept. 12 story on the group’s founder, Altaf Hussain, as “baseless” in a message posted to its website earlier this week.
The MQM said it had a lawyer deliver a legal notice to the Times.
“We received a notice from a law firm, not a lawsuit,” a Times spokeswoman told International Business Times, “and we won’t comment.”
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Walsh was suddenly ousted from Pakistan last May when officers from the Interior Ministry arrived at his home with a two-sentence letter informing him his visa was revoked.
Executive Editor Jill Abramson wrote a letter to Interior Minister Malik Muhammad Habib Khan, describing her reporter as one of “integrity who has at all times offered balanced, nuanced and factual reporting on Pakistan.”
The paper has repeatedly asked for his visa to be reinstated.
The expulsion surprised many, including the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Bob Dietz. He told IBTimes that Pakistan’s press is more aggressive than it has ever been, and Walsh’s ouster seemed to be the work of a politician personally offended by a story.