Although journalists are allowed to generally scrutinize government officials and policies, strict security and defamation laws severely constrain press freedom, and the law prohibits attacks on the dignity of the head of state or foreign leaders. The government may prosecute offending journalists in the Publications Court, a special tribunal that oversees press issues. Authorities frequently exert pressure on journalists to practice self-censorship through harassment and intimidation. Most television and radio stations are privately owned, but the government decides who can operate these stations and whether or not they can broadcast news. Nevertheless, broadcasting is more diverse than in other Arab countries. Widespread protest followed the closing of an independent television station and its affiliate radio station after a court accused the stations of violating a law against broadcasting political propaganda during elections. Critics of the closure say it was aimed at silencing criticism of the pro-Syrian government and Syria. Media outlets often reflect the opinions of their financial backers.