Journalist and World Is One News Bureau Chief Taha Siddiqui on Monday filed a writ petition in the Islamabad High Court alleging that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had harassed him over the phone.
According to the petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Siddiqui alleged that a man named Noman Bodla, who identified himself as a member of the Counter Terrorism Department of the FIA, had called him and attempted to pressure him into appearing for an 'interrogation' at the FIA headquarters.
The petition alleged that Bodla was vague about the nature of the interrogation. According to the petition, "He did however hint that the interrogation concerned issues and opinion[s] on which the petitioner had written journalistic pieces and as such it involved the petitioner’s professional work."
According to the petition, Siddiqui was hesitant to appear at the FIA headquarters and insisted that his "professional work was in the public domain and could be accessed without his presence or interrogation."
The petitioner also reportedly told Bodla that he was free to ask him any questions regarding his work over the phone.
In the petition, Siddiqui mentioned that he: "was reluctant to go to the FIA Headquarters on the basis that there have been several reports in the press where such phone calls are made and once the person who is to be interrogated sets out to the FIA Headquarters, he is either picked up and disappeared or detained illegally."
The petitioner further maintains that Bodla: "insisted that it would be “better” for him to appear before Respondent No.3 (Noman Bodla) for review of his work and in a threatening voice and tone, questioned the petitioner as to whether he would appear or not in a threatening and menacing manner."
The writ petition also alleges that, "the petitioner has noticed that plain-clothed persons have conspicuously been pointing at his house at which the petitioner has taken due precautions," by restricting his own movement and letting his family and friends know his location at all times.
"It is inconceivable that the counterterrorism department of the FIA should be calling up a journalist who has nothing to do with terrorism and is a person of the pen," the petition said.
The petitioner has prayed to the court that the respondents in the case, Bodla, FIA and the Interior Ministry be directed to carry out their duties within the framework of the law and, "desist from harassing citizens simply because they have expressed a view or are carrying out their professional duties."
Recently, the FIA has identified dozens of suspects involved in what it calls an “organised” campaign against the country’s armed forces on social media, even as opposition parties condemned the alleged “misuse” of the cybercrime law by the government.
The action was ordered by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan around a week ago after he took notice of online criticism of the armed forces.
His 'notice' followed the Army's May 10 announcement that a tweet sent out by the military's public relations wing, “rejecting” a directive issued by the Prime Minister's Office, stood withdrawn.