A sessions court in Lahore on Wednesday denied bail to journalist Azharul Haq Wahid, who has been accused of making ‘anti-state’ remarks and criticising former military strongman General (r) Pervez Musharraf on the social media.
FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing had arrested the journalist, who was associated with Channel Five and Khabrain newspaper, on January 17 and had lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against him for uploading “anti-state” and “defamatory material against the public functionaries and state departments” through his Facebook account.
However, the nature of the “anti-state” content in question remains unclear.
It may be noted here that Wahid was arrested when he appeared before the court to record his statement in an inquiry initiated against him.
Counsel of the journalist Advocate Mian Dawood said the FIA had arrested his client for criticising the policies of the PTI government and acquittal of former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in the high treason case, arguing that a judicial magistrate had dismissed Wahid’s bail application without considering the facts.
He argued that a judicial magistrate had dismissed Wahid’s bail application without considering the facts.
He said it was against the rules of fair trial to only accept findings of FIA’s investigation and that the Constitution’s Articles 8 and 9 guarantee the protection of a citizen’s fundamental rights.
According to the lawyer, subordinate courts were bound to grant bail in cases registered under sections mandating punishments of less than 10 years.
“The young journalist has been targeted and arrested only to create further fear in the media,” Dawood said.
“Can criticism against ministers or certain persons be considered criticism against an institution?” he asked during the hearing. The lawyer said the journalist was also raising his voice for the issues of countless poor people from his Facebook page.
The counsel for FIA opposed the bail plea, arguing that the journalist had “knowingly uploaded content against state institutions and government personalities”.
“The suspect also shared an ‘offensive, edited’ version of the country’s national anthem on his Facebook page,” the FIA lawyer had informed the court.
The journalist remains in judicial custody.