An Islamabad court on Tuesday extended the physical remand of PTI Senator Azam Swati for four days till December 3.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Swati over the weekend on Sunday — the second time in less than two months — over strongly worded tweets against senior military officials.
Separate FIRs were registered against the PTI leader in Balochistan and Sindh as well for using “derogatory language” and “provoking the people against the army”. Following the arrest, the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (Pemra) prohibited media coverage of Swati on all satellite TV channels.
Swati was not present for today’s hearing which was presided over by Judicial Magistrate Muhammad Bashir. Babar Awan, Swati’s lawyer, contended that the senator faced life threats and should therefore be exempted from appearing in court.
Accepting the request, the judge directed the authorities concerned to present the senator in court via video link for the next hearing.
On the other hand, the FIA’s counsel requested to extend Swati’s remand for six more days as further investigation was required into the senator’s mobile phone and Twitter account.
However, the judge turned down the request and instead granted the FIA physical remand of the PTI leader for another four days. The hearing was later adjourned.
Case against Swati
Swati was previously arrested by the FIA in October for a controversial tweet thought to be against the armed forces. Since being released on bail, the senator has maintained that he was allegedly tortured in custody and has demanded the removal of two military officials, one of whom he used foul language against on Twitter.
After Swati’s arrest on Sunday, it emerged that a first information (FIR) report against him was registered by the FIA on the complaint of the state through Islamabad Cyber Crime Reporting Centre (CCRC) Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman.
The complaint was registered under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (Peca) which deals with offences against dignity of a person as well as Sections 131 (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier from his duty),500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (defamation and printing of content deemed defamatory), Section 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
According to the FIR, Swati and three other Twitter accounts — @Wolf1Ak, @HaqeeqatTV_20 and @Azaadi99 — “with malafide intentions and ulterior motives, started [a] highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets […] against state institutions” and senior government functionaries, including outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
It said that on Nov 26, Swati shared a tweet wherein he stated that he would go after a senior military official at every forum. It went on to say that on Nov 19, @Azaadi99 shared a tweet in which held generals responsible for the country’s destruction to which Swati replied with “thank you”.
Further, @Wolf1Ak on Nov 24 stated that “tabdeeli” had to begin by clearing the filth of the “corrupt generals” from the institution, to which Swati again replied with “thank you”.
The complaint said that on Nov 24 @HaqeeqatTV_20 tweeted about a word for those on their way out to which the senator responded with strong language.
The FIR said that such “intimidating tweets of blaming and naming” were a “mischievous act of subversion to create a rift between personnel of armed forces to harm the state of Pakistan”.
The FIR said that through the offensive tweets as well as the comments on instigating tweets, the accused attempted to seduce army personnel from their allegiance from their duties as subordinates,“ adding that this was a “calculated and repeated attempt” by Swati.
The FIR noted that a similar complaint had been filed against the senator in the past, adding that Swati attempted to “provoke” the general public and personnel of armed forces by trying to create “a feeling of ill-will among the pillars of the state”.
Swati “violated the privacy and intimated by using false information” which was likely to incite any officer, soldier, sailor or airman to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty, the FIR said, adding that the remarks were also likely to cause “fear or alarm” in the public.