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KARACHI: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday denied the government’s involvement in reporting lawyer Reema Omer’s tweets about military courts to Twitter.

On Monday, Ms Omer took to the micro-blogging website to share that Twitter had received “official correspondence” that three of her tweets were in violation of the Pakistani law.

“Interesting times where ‘officials’ see references to the law — i.e., the Constitution + judgements of high courts — as a violation of the law,” she had said, sharing screenshots of her tweets wherein she questioned the status of military courts in the Constitution.

Reema Omer says Twitter received ‘official correspondence’ that her tweets on military courts violated law

“Military courts’ proceedings are opaque, closed to public scrutiny. Their convictions are based almost entirely on ‘confessions’ that PHC has called ‘concocted’. Accused don’t present a defence and don’t have independent legal representation. Yet, you can trust military courts?” read one of the tweets in question.

Pointing out that Twitter said such legal requests come from “law enforcement, govt. agencies”, Ms Omar said that only last week the information minister had denied any government communication with Twitter apart from requests for action on “hate speech”. “Is raising rights issues ‘hate speech’ in Naya Pakistan?” she asked.

Responding to her tweet, Mr Chaudhry clarified that the government did not have any correspondence with Twitter over Ms Omer’s tweets.“This is absolutely an academic debate; why would govt question that debate?” he asked.

Thanking the minister for the clarification, Ms Omar said: “It leads to more questions: Is Twitter making up these emails? Is some impostor pretending to be a government official making these complaints? Or are these complaints being made ‘officially’, but without the government’s knowledge?”

In recent months, users, both local and international, have reported that they have received notices from Twitter labelling their tweets in violation with the Pakistani law.

On Monday, sociologist Nida Kirmani said she had received an email from Twitter, saying that her tweets about Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement were in

violation of the Pakistani law according to a complaint it had received from official authorities.

“Got a msg from Twitter Legal that an official complaint has been made against me for violating Pakistani law. Tweets mentioned: 1. a photo w/Manzoor Pashteen 2. a critique of the creation of an ultra-nationalist death squad 3. a defence of PTM. No specific laws were mentioned,” she wrote.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2019