An Islamabad district and sessions court on Friday remanded journalist Muhammad Khalid Jamil in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for two days after he was arrested last night.
According to the FIA, the journalist was detained on charges of spreading “provocative narrative” against state institutions through social media posts.
A photo of Jamil is also doing the rounds on social media, showing him holding a piece of paper with a case number written on it.
ABN News, the TV channel with which Jamil is affiliated, posted a message at 11:18pm last night on X (formerly Twitter), confirming that the journalist had been arrested.
The first information report — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — registered by the agency said Hussain was “found sharing and propagating highly intimidating content/tweets on social media/Twitter” (now X).
It invoked Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), which states: “Whoever intentionally and publicly exhibits or displays or transmits any information through any information system, which he knows to be false, and intimidates or harms the reputation or privacy of a natural person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one million rupees or with both.”
The FIR also included Section 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
“The accused had knowingly misinterpreted and disseminates anti-state narrative by sharing false misleading and baseless information which are also likely to cause fear in the public and may incite anyone to commit an offence against the state or the state institution or public tranquility,” it said.
It added that the “accused persons including Muhammad Khalid Jamil propagated, promoted and glorified anti-state, provocative and hatred narrative against the state institutions.” The FIA, however, did not name other individuals involved in the alleged crime.
The agency said such intimidating content of blaming and naming through social media accounts, is a mischievous act of subversion to create a rift between general public and state institutions to “harm the state of Pakistan”.
It went on to say that through such intimidating content including videos, the accused “attempted to provoke the general public against the state institutions including judiciary, by trying to create a feeling of ill-will among pillars of the state”.
“The competent authority has accorded the permission for registration of FIR so the case is registered,” the FIA added.
Meanwhile, the journalist community strongly condemned the arrest of Khalid Jamil and called for a clear explanation for the action taken.
Journalist Maria Memon expressed concern about the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) swift action in Jamil’s case, highlighting the inconsistency in their response to other online harassment cases.
Journalist and columnist Nusrat Javed questioned the basis for Jamil’s arrest, suggesting that the government needed a thoroughly credible narrative to justify the detention.
Mubashir Zaidi, another experienced journalist, joined the chorus of condemnation against the arrest and urged for Jamil’s immediate release.
Meanwhile, commenting on Jameel’s arrest during a press conference today, interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said arrest and search warrants had been issued for the journalist by a court, which he stated was “mandatory as per the law”.
He said he could not comment on the charges on which the journalist was arrested.
“If law enforcement agencies … do any injustice then the matter should go to court. We would not want to interfere in court procedures. If there has been any injustice with him (Jamil) and it comes in my knowledge, then we will address it while remaining within the law,” Solangi added.