ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday restrained the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from “unnecessarily harassing” journalists and sought a report from the organisation on a petition filed by ARY TV anchorperson Arshad Sharif.

Mr Sharif had approached the court against the reported harassment by the government. His counsel Ali Bukhari said he was instructed by the petitioner, Arshad Sharif, on Wednesday night to approach the court because he was being harassed.

The counsel contended that since last night he had not been able to establish contact with the petitioner and that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the FIA might have illegally detained him.

The court sought a report from the FIA and adjourned further hearing to Friday (today).

Justice Minallah also directed the FIA and the inspector general of police to nominate their representatives for the court’s assistance. “In the meanwhile they are directed to ensure that the petitioner, Arshad Sharif, nor any other journalist, is unnecessarily harassed nor dealt with otherwise than in accordance with law,” the court order stated.

However, an FIA spokesman denied the anchorperson’s allegation.

An FIA statement said: “The FIA has neither arrested nor harassed Anchorperson Arshad Sharif. It seems fake news. In this regard, propaganda against the FIA and its officers on social media is deplorable. The media and people are requested to desist from such propaganda. The FIA reserves the right to sue... such people involved in such propaganda. In addition, legal action can be taken against such people who initiate and spread such propaganda,” it said.

In a statement, the Council of Newspaper Editors also condemned the harassment of Mr Sharif and expressed solidarity with him.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2022

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