An Islamabad district and session court on Wednesday extended journalist Asad Ali Toor’s physical remand for two days in a case pertaining to an online campaign against the judiciary.

In January, the car­e­taker government had formed a five-member joint investigation team (JIT) to “ascertain facts behind a malicious social media campaign” against the judiciary in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to deprive PTI of its iconic ‘bat’ symbol.

On February 23, Toor was interrogated for nearly eight hours by officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on the same matter. The interrogation had taken place despite the attorney general for Pakistan assuring the apex court last month that the FIA would not take action before the general election on the notices sent to journalists. The apex court had adjourned the hearing in the case till the first week of March.

Toor was subsequently arrested on Feb 26 and presented in court a day later, where the FIA was granted a five-day remand of the journalist.

Today, Toor was presented before Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Shabbir.

At the outset of the hearing, the FIA’s counsel sought an extension in the journalist’s remand.

“First tell us what did you do in the last eight days?” the judge asked, to which the agency’s lawyer said substantial progress had been made in the case. He added that the FIA was allowed to take physical remand for up to 30 days as per the law.

Meanwhile, Toor’s counsel Hadi Ali stated that the prosecution should convince the court why an extension was needed. He contended that evidence presented in court “did not prove” the charges against his client.

Ali further argued that Toor had accepted he was operating his YouTube and Twitter accounts and the FIA should present evidence that Toor’s comments were the cause of something.

“Asad Toor should be discharged from the case,” the lawyer demanded.

After hearing the arguments, the court extended the journalist’s physical remand for two days.

Hunger strike

Last week, Toor’s counsel said the journalist had gone on a hunger strike in FIA custody, and warned that his health condition was deteriorating.

In a post on social media platform X, Advocate Imaan Zainab Mazari had said: “Asad’s mother, his lawyers and his friends are extremely worried about his deteriorating health on hunger strike.

“When we asked Asad the reason for his hunger strike, he said, I am the voice of the voiceless so now they are muzzling my voice. I protest this action.”

According to the first information report, Toor was booked under Sections 9, 10 and 24 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca).

The sections deal with the offences of glorification of an offence, cyber terrorism and cyberstalking.

According to the FIR, Toor “built a false narrative” and publically launched a “malicious/obnoxious and explicit campaign” against “civil servants/government officials and state institutions”.

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