A district court in Karachi on Tuesday confirmed the interim pre-arrest bail of journalist Shahzeb Jillani in a case pertaining to alleged cyber terrorism, hate speech and defamatory remarks about state institutions.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had booked Jillani in a case registered under Sections 500 (defamation), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with the Sections 10(a) (cyber terrorism), 11 (hate speech) and 20 (offences against dignity of a natural person) of the Pakistan Electronic Crime Act (Peca), 2016, on the complaint of Advocate Moulvi Iqbal Haider.
The district and sessions judge (South) Imdad Hussain Khoso today pronounced his verdict, which was reserved last week after hearing arguments from Jillani’s counsel and FIA prosecutor on his application for bail confirmation.
The judge confirmed the interim bail, which had been granted to the journalist against a surety bond of Rs100,000.
Earlier, his defence counsel Salman Mirza denied the allegations levelled by the complainant, arguing that the remarks allegedly made by his client in the TV shows and a tweet from his official Twitter account do not amount to an act of cyber terrorism, and thus did not fall under Sections 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the Pakistan Electronic Crime Act, 2016.
He further said that the FIA had lodged the FIR with malafide intentions and requested to the court to confirm the interim bail of his client.
The FIA’s investigating officer Akbar Khan Mahsood opposed the application for bail confirmation, and maintained that the applicant’s alleged remarks and tweet fell within the ambit of cyber terrorism.
He further contended that the alleged remarks made by Jillani in two television programmes had caused a sense of anxiety among government institutions, including the armed forces as well as general public. He requested the judge to dismiss Jillani’s application and order his arrest.