ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday restrained the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from harassing social media activist of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and issued a stay order against the arrest of anchorperson Sami Abraham.

PTI’s activist Mariam Malik and anchorperson Abraham were facing inquiries for criticising state institutions.

Interestingly, advocate Imaan Zainaib Hazir Mazari, who was mostly pleading the cases of journalists registered under controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) ordinance promulgated by the previous PTI government and Section 20 of Peca that criminalised the defamation, appeared to defend Ms Malik.

She disclosed this during the vlog of senior journalist Matiullah Jan. She explained the reason for engaging Mazari as lawyer for her expertise in handling cases registered under Peca.

She said that even the lawyers belonging to PTI recommended her to file the petition through advocate Mazari.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah took up the petition and inquired from Mazari reason for this change.

She replied that since the FIA did not stop practice of harassing citizen in this regime and continued to send notices to the social media activists, therefore, she is defending the PTI’s activist against the alleged highhandedness of the investigation agency.

She argued that the FIA sent a notice to Ms Malik and the official of the investigation agency visited her residence as well.

Justice Minallah issued notice to the FIA and sought the reply till May 31.

The court stopped FIA from harassing Ms Malik and her family members and suspended the FIA’s notice till said date.

Sami Abraham case

Justice Minallah restrained FIA from arresting anchorperson Sami Abraham till May 16.

The court also summoned director FIA’s Cyber Crimes Wing (CCW) to appear on the said date.

The FIA has initiated proceeding against Abraham for allegedly transmitting anti-state videos and statements on various social media platforms, including regarding the army and judiciary.

The FIA claimed that Mr Abraham was involved in spreading fake news regarding state institutions.

Abraham is currently in the US, hence, his mother filed the petition before the IHC through advocate Raja Amir Abbas.

Justice Minallah inquired the counsel for Abraham the reason for initiation of the inquiry.

The CJ remarked that many journalists were apparently not doing fair journalism.

The counsel for Abraham told the court that his client will return to Pakistan on May 16.

He said that the FIA’s notice did not mention name of any complainant and the agency accused him for inciting mutiny within army. The court, however, issued a restraining order and adjourned further hearing till May 16.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2022

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