ISLAMABAD: Senior journalist Imran Riaz Khan was arrested by the Attock police on the outskirts of Islamabad on Tuesday night as he was headed to the federal capital to acquire a pre-arrest bail from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a treason case registered against him.

Meanwhile, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued notices to the Islamabad police chief and chief commissioner over the detention of the journalist. The judge told them to appear before the high court at 10 am today. The notice by the IHC CJ came after a contempt petition was filed by Mr Khan’s legal team late on Tuesday night.

It named the police chiefs of Islamabad and Punjab as respondents along with the chief commissioner of the federal capital.

The petition was received by the registrar’s office late at night, in accordance with the standard operating procedure set to entertain the petitions on emergent matters and those related to civic liberty, habeas corpus, and imminent threat to life.

Sources in the police department said that a contingent of the Attock police supported by a team of the Elite Force took the journalist into custody when he was “travelling to Islamabad” and moved him to the Attock City Police Station.

They said a case was registered against the journalist at the city police station on June 25 under Section 505-1(C ), 505 (2), 501, 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code and six different sections of the Prevention Of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016.

The journalist also shared a video of himself at the time of the arrest wherein he could be seen sitting in his car surrounded by police officials. “You have taken my car and weapons, registered 20 FIRs against me, now you want to arrest me as well, go ahead and arrest me,” he said as he got out of the car to surrender.

The arrest of the senior journalist was condemned by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership, including former prime minister Imran Khan. The PTI chairman tweeted that the country was “descending into fascism just to make our nation accept an imported government”. He urged everyone, particularly the media, to stand up against “fascism”, he added.

Earlier in the day, the PTI head had also mentioned Imran Riaz during his live address on Facebook and said journalists who supported PTI were being intimidated by the authorities.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2022

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