June 18, 2019

Inquiry against journalists for displaying picture of Jamal Khashoggi online

ISLAMABAD: A letter purportedly from the Federal Investigation Agency has been doing the rounds on social media according to which an inquiry has been ordered against five journalists for displaying pictures of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi ahead of the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to Pakistan.

According to the letter dated March 13, 2019, journalists named Matiullah Jan, Murtaza Solangi, Azaz Syed, Ammar Masood and Umer Cheema displayed “a picture of murdered journalist Jamal Khoshogi on their social media profile DPs which conveyed a very disrespectful message to the visiting dignitary/ guest.

Interestingly, it also named political commentator and blogger Ahmad Waqqas Goraya among the journalists. Mr. Goraya was among the four bloggers who went missing in January 2017.

Muhammad Bin Salman was in Pakistan on a two day visit (February 17-18). He has been under fire for his alleged involvement in the murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Kashoggi. Mr. Kashoggi was allegedly murdered by Saudi operatives in Istanbul Consulate on October 02, 2018.

As an act of protest, some social media users and  journalists displayed picture of Mr. Khashoggi ahead of Saudi dignitary’s visit in Pakistan.  However, the letter accused them of being part of a”targeted social media campaign” and noted that they remained active till the very last day of the visit.

Apart from journalists, inquiry against four have organizations have also been ordered namely Majlis-e-Wahdat Muslimeen, Imamia Students Organization, Tameer-e-Watan Party, Islamabad and Hizbut Tahrir. According to the letter, “these groups/ party’s members were found most active on social media against Muhammad Bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan.”

DRM reached out to FIA to confirm the authenticity of the letter but did not hear back from them till the writing of this report.

Meanwhile, DRM also talked to one of the journalists named in the list Azaz Syed. According to him, he has not heard anything from FIA regarding this inquiry at this point.

Many Journalists and activists condemned this notification on social media.

Murtaza Solangi, who was also one of the journalists named in the letter, questioned how could putting display picture of a journalist be deemed illegal.

Journalist Matiullah Jan also confirmed in his video message that they did not hear back from FIA. He noted that the letter was part of internal communication between Ministry of Interior and FIA but expressed annoyance about how this constituted a violation of law.

Renowned analyst Ejaz Haider called it an “utter nonsense”.

Fahad Desmukh from Awami Workers Party had similar views.

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