KARACHI: A day after his arrest in London, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain was released on Wednesday evening by the British authorities on bail without filing charges relating to a probe into his alleged hate speeches relayed from the United Kingdom to his followers in Pakistan.
The Metropolitan Police of London had raided Mr Hussain’s residence on Tuesday morning, taken him into custody and shifted him to the Southwark police station, where he was questioned in the presence of his lawyers in connection with the probe that the police said was focused on a speech broadcast in August 2016 as well as other speeches.
On Wednesday, he was released on bail “to return to a police station in mid-July”, said a police statement released in London. The statement did not name Mr Hussain.
“As part of the investigation, officers carried out a search at a northwest London address and at a separate commercial address in northwest London. Both these searches are now complete,” it added.
Search by police at two addresses in London complete
A source in MQM-London told Dawn that the authorities decided not to file charges but will continue with their investigation to get sufficient evidence or otherwise.
Mr Hussain was arrested on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting offences contrary to Section 44 (intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence) of the Serious Crime Act, 2007.
The Met police made it clear that action at this stage was procedural in nature, as “he was detained under PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Order, 1989)”, which sets out codes of practices in relation to searches of premises by police officers and seizure of property found by police on persons and premises and detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers.
London-based Hussain has been a subject of various inquiries while living in self-exile for the past 27 years. He was first arrested on June 3, 2014, in connection with a money laundering probe and was released on bail after a couple of days.
In October 2016, the British authorities dropped the money laundering probe and returned a huge sum of cash recovered from Mr Hussain’s home and office during separate raids in 2014.
Mr Hussain was also interviewed by investigators probing the murder of Dr Imran Farooq, who was stabbed to death in London in 2010.
While a court had imposed a ban on the media coverage of Mr Hussain, his own party in Pakistan parted ways with him after he made an incendiary speech over phone on Aug 22, 2016. Since then, he has been facing an unannounced ban and his loyalists are not allowed to take part in political activities, or to even gather at the Nine Zero headquarters in Azizabad which has been sealed off since 2016.
Pakistani authorities had complained to their British counterparts about Mr Hussain’s incendiary speeches that according to them aimed at inciting his followers to violence.
Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2019