Opposition leadership strongly condemn the arrest the journalists, says it attack on freedom of speech
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday arrested two journalists — Amir Mir and Imran Shafqat — in Lahore for their “disrespectful attitude” against the Pakistan Army, the judiciary and women.
The statement claimed that two YouTube channels the men were associated with, Googly and Tellings, were releasing messages attempting to weaken national security institutions and the judiciary while also weakening public trust in the institutions.
“They uploaded scandalous content on YouTube and they are being questioned about a complaint lodged by a minister, Murad Saeed,” said the FIA’s Babar Bakht Qureshi. Later, the FIA issued a statement saying that the two had been released on bail after questioning and that charges would later be filed in court.
According to a press release issued by the FIA’s Cyber Crime wing Lahore, the journalists were arrested after cases were registered against them under Sections 11, 13, 20 and 24 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 and Sections 469, 500, 505 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the arrests and demanded the release of Mir and Shafqat.
“Imran Khan continues victimisation of political opponents and media critics to hide his incompetence and failures,” he said.
Strongly condemn the arrest of journalists #AmirMir and #ImranShafqat . Imran Khan continues victimization of political opponents and media critics to hide his incompetence and failures. Demand release immediately.— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) August 7, 2021
PMLN leader Maryam Nawaz tweeted, “The kidnapping of two journalists in one day is very worrying. The protection of the journalistic community is the responsibility of the state. Failure to do so is criminal. Disappearing someone for criticizing is undeclared martial law. Who will be silenced? Now the whole country is speaking. These actions will not leave you anywhere. Sorry”
ایک ہی دن میں دو صحافیوں کا اغوا نہایت ہی تشویشناک ہے۔صحافی برادری کی حفاظت ریاست کی ذمہ داری ہے اس میں کوتاہی مجرمانہ ہے۔ تنقید کرنے پر کسی کو غائب کردینا غیر اعلانیہ مارشل لا ہے۔ کس کس کو چپ کرائیں گے؟ اب تو پورا ملک بول رہا ہے۔یہ حرکتیں آپ کو کہیں کا نہیں چھوڑیں گی۔ افسوس! pic.twitter.com/aYWZlK7MJo— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) August 7, 2021
Former senator Afrasiab Khattak termed the incident an attack on “whatever remains of press freedom” in the country.
“Abduction replacing arrests (even under the blackest of laws) reflects the nature of unconstitutional regime ruling the country,” he said.