The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last night conducted a raid at a Rawalpindi house owned by Nasir Butt — a PML-N leader who is the central figure in the controversy surrounding leaked videos of accountability judge Arshad Malik, sources told DawnNewsTV.
According to sources in FIA's cybercrime wing, Nasir Butt had fled to London before the videos surfaced. The raiding team recovered some 'important documents' from the building, the sources claimed.
Judge Arshad Malik had earlier lodged a case with the FIA against Butt, another suspect Mian Tariq and others.
Forensic examination of phones, USB
Meanwhile, the FIA said it had recovered three mobile phones and a USB device from Tariq, who had been arrested yesterday from Islamabad by an FIA team.
The FIA's Information Technology team will conduct a forensic examinations of the three phones and the USB. The agency will also recover the complete call record of the three mobile phones.
The FIA also constituted a legal team, led by FIA Additional Director Legal Qaiser Masood, to present the case in a court of law.
Judge accuses PML-N leaders of blackmailing
According to the case lodged by Arshad Malik with the FIA, Tariq Mahmood — who used to run a television repair shop in Multan — allegedly manipulated a video of the judge and later sold the footage.
The judge reported in the case that the video was sold to PML-N local leader Mian Raza, while Nasir Janjua, Nasir Butt, Khurrum Yousaf, Mahar Ghulam Jelani, allegedly used it to blackmail the judge.
The judge also alleged that the suspects had forced Malik to support convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif by "scandalising" the process of accountability.
He mentioned in the first information report (FIR) that a meeting was arranged between him and Mian Nawaz Sharif in Jati Umra, while another meeting was arranged with Hussain Nawaz in Madina. According to the statement by the judge, he was offered bribes and the alleged blackmailers recorded the meetings.
Malik said he was blackmailed repeatedly to issue a statement as per the will of the suspects. He further alleged that an illegally recorded and tampered video was shown in a press conference by the PML-N's central leadership to ruin his reputation.
On July 6, the PML-N's leadership held a press conference and alleged that the judge had been "blackmailed" into giving the verdict against Nawaz Sharif.
To substantiate her claims at the press conference, Maryam had played a secretly recorded video that she claimed featured a conversation between Nasir Butt, a man she described as a loyal fan of her father, and judge Malik.
Maryam alleged that the judge had contacted Nasir and told him that he was feeling "guilt" and "having nightmares" after announcing the "unjust" verdict against Nawaz, so he invited Nasir for a meeting at his residence, where the video was recorded.
Maryam claimed that, in the video, judge Malik had pointed out the flaws in Nawaz's corruption trial that he wanted to be conveyed to Nawaz's lawyers. The judge acknowledged that he had been "blackmailed" and "pressured" into issuing a judgment against the PML-N supremo, Maryam claimed.
The veracity of the contents of the video or any of the claims made by Maryam has not been independently verified yet.
The controversy continued to make news after Maryam released two more video clips "in support" of the first one.
Malik's rebuttal to PML-N
A day after the press conference, judge Malik rejected Maryam's allegations saying that the former premier was convicted on the basis of evidence.
The judge, in a press release issued on July 7, said that he had seen the press conference as well as the video attributed to him. "Serious allegations were made against me; it was a conspiracy to affect my credibility as well as that of my institution and my family. Therefore, I want to present the facts.
"The video shown in Maryam Safdar sahiba's press conference is not only contrary to the facts but it is also a despicable attempt to mesh together various instances and topics spoken about, and to present them out of context."
Malik also demanded legal action against those behind the move.
On July 12, a petition requesting a thorough probe for determining the truth in the matter landed in the Supreme Court. “In these circumstances and surrounding realities, it is most respectfully prayed that an inquiry may be ordered to be conducted so as to determine the truth,” argued the petition moved by Ishtiaq Ahmed Mirza through Advocate Chaudhry Munir Sadiq.
The same day, the Islamabad High Court decided to remove accountability judge Arshad Malik from his post.
On July 12, judge Malik also gave in a letter to IHC acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq in which he said that the videos shared by Maryam were fake. He also filed an affidavit before the IHC chief justice along with his letter.
According to judge Malik's affidavit — presented to the Islamabad High Court chief justice as a rebuttal to Maryam Nawaz's press conference — Mahmood, an old acquaintance of his, had been the one to show him a "secretly recorded manipulated immoral video [showing him] in a compromising position" that was shot while the judge was serving in Multan.