06/28/2022

FIA Investigating Journalist Sami Ibrahim For Allegedly Spreading “Anti-State” Content Online

May 9, 2022 – The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has launched an inquiry into Bol anchorperson Sami Ibrahim’s alleged transmission of “anti-state” videos and statements on social media and that too under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (PECA), which was declared “unconstitutional” by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) last month.

In a press release issued on Sunday, May 8, the FIA accused Ibrahim of spreading “fake news” about state institutions.

“He [Ibrahim] has made imputations which are glaring attempts to incite armed forces personnel to mutiny,” states the press release. “He has attempted to create chaos in Pakistan through social media while staying abroad.”

According to the FIA, the inquiry will be closed if Ibrahim is able to defend himself. However, if the offence is made out, a case will be registered against the anchorperson through an FIR. “He will be arrested whenever possible and prosecuted in court of law.”

“Since he is abroad, a Red Notice will be issued against him through Interpol,” reads the statement. “His name will be placed on the ECL (Exit Control List).”

The FIA also issued a notice to Ibrahim, directing him to appear at the FIA Cybercrime Reporting Centre in Islamabad on Friday, May 13. The inquiry against him has been initiated under Section 20 of PECA and Section 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Surprisingly, the IHC, along with declaring the PECA Amendment Ordinance 2022 “unconstitutional” on April 8, had scrapped Section 20 of PECA 2016 as well, which criminalises defamation. 

On May 7, however, the FIA filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, seeking the suspension of IHC’s order. The petition was withdrawn just hours later, with Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb claiming that the government was unaware of FIA’s appeal.

Ibrahim posted a photo of the notice on Twitter, accusing the Federal Government of “forming a case against him through the FIA”. According to Ibrahim, he will return to Pakistan on May 14 and pursue legal action.

In its statement against Ibrahim, the FIA also warned that action would be pursued against Pakistani-origin expatriates if their social media posts are “offensive and seditious”. It advised them to read PECA to ensure their posts do not constitute any offence. 

“If they commit any offence, Red Notices through Interpol can be issued against them for their arrest. Their names can be put on the ECL.”

Last month, ARY journalist Arshad Sharif, through his lawyer, filed a petition against the FIA, accusing the agency of harassment and illegal detention. Subsequently, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah ordered the FIA to stop harassing Sharif. The FIA later released a statement calling the reports of Sharif’s arrest “fake news” and “deplorable propaganda” against the agency. 

It is pertinent to mention that the IHC has already ordered the FIA to submit a report this month on its abuse of power.

 

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