NEW YORK - Amnesty International, a prominent human rights organization on Tuesday urged the Pakistani authorities to immediately revoke a travel ban on Cyril Almeida, a leading journalist, and allow the media to operate freely and without fear.

Almeida, Assistant Editor of Dawn newspaper, was placed on Pakistan’s Exit Control List by the Pakistani authorities after the Prime Minister’s Office took exception to a front page report he wrote, dated Oct. 6, on tensions between the civilian government and the military.

“The travel ban on Cyril Almeida is a crude intimidation tactic designed to silence journalists and stop them from doing their jobs,”  Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues, said in a statement.

“Journalism is not a crime," she said.

"They should be able to work freely and without fear. The Pakistani authorities must break with a longstanding practice of subjecting media workers to intimidation, threats, restrictions on movements, enforced disappearances and violence.

“The language used by the Prime Minister’s Office is chilling. It is one thing for the authorities to dispute and contradict a media report. But it is quite another to threaten a journalist under the guise of national security,” Gaughran added.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should remember his promises to improve the situation for journalists. It is essential he take concrete measures to make that a reality.”

Earlier this year Reporters without Borders ranked Pakistan 147th out of 180 countries for Press freedom, the lowest position in South Asia.