Court remands journalist to FIA for two days

ISLAMABAD  -  A local court on Friday remanded journalist Khalid Jamil in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for two days after he was arrested a day earlier on charges of disseminating “anti- state narrative” through his social media posts.

FIA had arrested Jamil, who works as the Bureau Chief of the Ausaf Broadcasting Network (ABN) News, from his residence. The journalist has been booked under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 and Section 505 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). 

On Friday, FIA presented Jamil before the court and sought his 10- day physical remand. In response, the defence lawyer contested the remand request, emphasising the Constitution guaranteed every citizen the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

The FIA legal team pressed that they needed the remand to find electronic devices from Jamil and to get access to his social media accounts. After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge granted a two-day physical remand of the journalist. 

According to the first information report (FIR) registered by FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing in Islamabad, the accused knowingly misinterpreted and disseminated “anti-state narrative” by sharing false, misleading and baseless information through his X (formerly twitter) handle. It added that such intimidating content of blaming and naming through social media accounts, is a “mischievous act of subversion to create a rift between general public and state institutions to harm the state of Pakistan.”

The report further said that the misleading information was likely to cause fear or alarm in the public and may induce or incite anyone to commit an offence against the state or the state institutions or public tranquillity. “Through these intimidating content/tweets/videos, the accused attempted to provoke the general public against the state institutions, including judiciary, by trying to create a feeling of ill-will among pillars of the state.”

On the other hand, the journalists and their representative bodies have expressed deep concerns over the FIA action saying that the arrest was a clear violation of an order of former Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Athar Minallah.

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in a statement condemned the arrest and the release of a photo of the journalist in an embarrassing way while in the custody of FIA. It also threatened countrywide protest if the journalist was not released immediately. The statement added that FIA did not inform the PFUJ despite Justice Minallah in its order had said that the agency was bound to inform the union prior to taking action against any journalist.

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