An Islamabad district and sessions court on Friday sent journalist Asad Ali Toor to jail on 14-day judicial remand in a case pertaining to an online campaign against the judiciary.

Earlier this year, a five-member joint investigation team was formed to “ascertain facts behind a malicious social media campaign” against the judiciary in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to deprive the PTI of its iconic ‘bat’ symbol.

On February 23, Toor was interrogated by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for nearly eight hours on the same matter. Three days later, the journalist was arrested and remanded to FIA custody for five days.

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

On Wednesday, the court had extended Toor’s remand for two more days.

Today, Judicial Magistrate Shabbir Bhatti sent the journalist to Adiala Jail on 14-day judicial remand and rejected the FIA’s plea seeking a four-day extension in physical remand.

Appeal for dismissal from case disposed of

Separately, Additional Sessions Judge Tahir Abbas Supra took up an appeal against the journalist’s physical remand. Toor’s lawyer Hadi Ali and Imaan Hazir-Mazari attended the proceedings.

At the outset of the hearing, the FIA prosecutor stated that the agency had presented Toor in court and requested another four-day extension in his remand. However, the judge asked, “What did you do in all these days?”

In his response, the prosecutor said the journalist’s social media accounts were examined and his devices were confiscated. “We still have to recover some things from Asad Ali Toor,” he added.

Meanwhile, Toor’s lawyer Hadi Ali contended that his client was in FIA custody for the past 11 days and requested the court to discharge him from the case.

“Asad Toor’s mobile was taken, he was interrogated as well […] what more do they want? For what do they want an extension in physical remand?” he asked, adding that the journalist would be available for investigation after being discharged from the case.

Here, the judge inquired about Toor’s vlogs, to which Ali replied that they were about alleged rigging in the February 8 general elections.

On the other hand, the FIA prosecutor stated that Toor had posted vlogs in “exchange for money”. But the judge remarked, “They had nothing to do with money.”

At one point, Imaan argued that her client had approached the Islamabad High Court against FIA notice. At that, the judge remarked that they had approached two forums and subsequently reserved the verdict in the case.

Announcing the judgment later, the judge disposed of the plea seeking Toor’s dismissal from the case.

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