Altaf Hussain released on bail by police in London

Updated June 12, 2019

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Police said Altaf Hussain was released on bail due to insufficient evidence. ─ Photo courtesy MQM website
Police said Altaf Hussain was released on bail due to insufficient evidence. ─ Photo courtesy MQM website

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain was released on bail on Wednesday after remaining in the custody of the London Metropolitan Police for a day.

The Met Police announced Hussain's arrest on Tuesday, saying that an MQM-linked man in his 60s had been arrested in northwest London on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

A statement by the Met Police today, without naming Hussain, said that "a man [...] associated with the MQM in Pakistan has today, Wednesday, 12 June been bailed to return to a police station in mid-July".

"As part of the investigation, officers carried out a search at the north west London address and at a separate commercial address in north west London. Both these searches are now complete," the Met police said in their statement.

"The investigation, which is being led by officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, is focused on a speech broadcast in August 2016 by an individual associated with the MQM movement in Pakistan as well as other speeches previously broadcast by the same person," the statement added.

The Met Police also said that officers have been "liaising with Pakistani authorities in relation to [their] ongoing enquiries" and that the investigation shall continue.

Police officials told DawnNewsTV that Hussain had been released due to "insufficient evidence to charge him with a crime". Sources within the party also confirmed the development.

A number of chanting MQM supporters gathered outside the Southwark Police Station to show support for Hussain following reports that the party founder had secured bail.

The sources said that the case against Hussain "was still open and he could be called again [by police] at any time".

Hate speech

Hussain's arrest was in relation to hate speech made by him on August 22, 2016.

Hours after Hussain delivered the incendiary speech, MQM workers had attacked the ARY News office in Karachi. Shortly after, the Rangers had detained a handful of senior MQM leaders overnight.

In the days that followed, the Karachi wing of the party led by Farooq Sattar distanced itself from Hussain and the London wing.

Parts of Hussain's speech that went viral on social media minutes after the violence broke out in Karachi showed that while addressing the MQM workers protesting outside the Karachi Press Club against “enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of workers”, the MQM supremo had not only raised slogans against Pakistan but also called the country “a cancer for entire world”.

“Pakistan is cancer for entire world,” he had said. “Pakistan is headache for the entire world. Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism for the entire world. Who says long live Pakistan...it’s down with Pakistan.”

The minister for interior at the time had sought assistance from British authorities, and asked them to take action against Hussain for “inciting people of Pakistan to violence”.

On August 23, Hussain apologised to the then army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, and the Rangers director general for his vitriolic speech.

“From the depth of heart, I beg pardon from my remarks against Pakistan, the establishment including Gen Raheel Sharif and DG Rangers,” he said in a statement shared on Twitter by MQM spokesperson Wasay Jalil.

“I was under severe mental stress over extra-judicial arrests and precarious condition of my workers sitting at the hunger strike camp.”