The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cyber Crime Wing has summoned Muhammad Bilal Ghauri, a local journalist associated with the Daily Jang Urdu, for posting anti-military content on his YouTube channel.
Sub-Inspector Mohammad Waseem Sikandar has summoned Ghauri to report on June 25 for questioning regarding alleged “defamation through social media via YouTube.”
It was issued on a complaint by Syed Abbas Mohiuddin, a former member of the Provincial Assembly from Attock District.
Meanwhile, Ghauri told Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that he could have received the summons in response to a video series he aired from 2019 to 2020 about Pakistan’s army chiefs.
Commenting in favor of Bilal, CPJ asked FIA and the authorities to stop ‘harassing’ journalists for ‘free reporting on institutions.’
“Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency needs to accept that critical coverage of key state institutions, including the army, is an essential aspect of democracy and press freedom,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator.
Authorities should stop harassing Muhammad Bilal Ghauri, cease summoning him for questioning, and allow him and other journalists to report freely.
Ghauri told CPJ that he had previously received a summons on June 16 for questioning, without specifying the allegations. Ghauri sent his lawyer in his place, who told authorities that the journalist would only appear for questioning if authorities provided more information about the allegations.
Ghauri says he will challenge the summons before the Islamabad High Court and said if the court did not drop the order, then he would appear for questioning on June 25.