Islamabad: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has sent notices for appearance before enquiry officer to 65 individuals, including 47 journalists and YouTubers, on January 30 and 31, accusing them of “spreading defamatory and false information” against the Chief Justice and state institutions on social media.
Among the notable journalists served notices are Matiullah Jan, Cyril Almeida, Iqrar-ul-Hassan, Shaheen Sehbai, Samar Abbas, Adeel Raja, Sabir Shakir, Saqib Bashir, Imran Riaz, and Faheem Malik. YouTubers summoned include Asad Toor, Siddique Jan, and Maleeha Hashmi, with social activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir also on the list.
The FIA, in an official statement, revealed that it has formally registered 115 inquiries and sent notices as part of its efforts to combat the spread of “misinformation” on social media.
On January 16, the caretaker government established a six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) under Section 30 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PECA) Act, 2016, to investigate the alleged social media campaign against Supreme Court judges. Headed by the additional director general of FIA, the committee includes representatives from inter-services intelligence, intelligence bureau, deputy inspector general of Islamabad Police, and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
The JIT is expected to submit a preliminary report to the Interior Ministry within 15 days, with FIA providing assistance during the investigation.
In response to the FIA’s actions, the Press Association of The Supreme Court (PAAS) and the High Court Journalists Association expressed concern. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa took notice of the statement issued by the press associations.
Several individuals, including journalist Sabir Shakir and social activist Jibran Nasir, have taken to social media platform X (formerly twitter) to express their determination to speak the truth, emphasizing allegiance to the Constitution and democratic principles.
Cyril Almeida stated, “God bless Qazi Faez Isa.”
Sabir Shakir commented, “We are all one, the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law, independent judiciary, independent media, and a democratic Pakistan.”
پیاری جے آئی ٹی، ایف آئی اے اور سپریم کورٹ میں بلا خوف و خطر سچ بولتا رہوں گا آپ اپنی انکوائری کرتے رہیے۔ ہم آئین کے وفادار ہیں کسی فرد واحد کے نہیں چاہے وہ کتنا ہی طاقتور کیوں نا ہو۔
Dear JIT, FIA and specially the Supreme Court I will continue to speak my mind and the truth… pic.twitter.com/MSPSc1msjx
— M. Jibran Nasir🎤 PS110 🇵🇸 (@MJibranNasir) January 27, 2024
Jibran Nasir, in a Twitter statement, asserted, “Dear JIT, FIA, and especially the Supreme Court, I will continue to speak my mind and the truth undeterred. You can take whatever action you like. I will not be intimidated. My allegiance is to the Constitution, not any individual, no matter how high or mighty.”