A Lahore court dismissed on Friday the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) case against TV anchor Imran Riaz Khan and ordered his immediate release.
He was arrested from Lahore on Thursday on charges of “hate speech” and making a “violence-inducing statement” aimed at creating “a rift between the general public and the state institutions”.
The BOL News anchor was taken into custody at the Allama Iqbal Airport from where was trying to go to the UAE. The FIA told him that his name was on the blacklist and he was subsequently handed over to the FIA cybercrime wing which had not produced him before a court of law for physical remand until today.
The FIA registered the first information report under sections 11 (electronic forgery), 20 (malicious code), and 24 (legal recognition of offenses committed in relation to information systems) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Peca) 2016. Likewise, sections 131/109 (incitement to mutiny), 500 (punishment for defamation) and 505 (public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code have also been added to the FIR.
According to the FIR — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — Khan was “found involved in publicly making a hate speech at a conference which falls under the territorial jurisdiction of FIA cyber crime cell”.
The complaint went on to say that the speech was further publicly shared on social media platforms nationally and internationally. The contents of Khan’s speech, as mentioned in the FIR, cast aspersions on former army chief Gen Bajwa’s parting pledge that the military would remain apolitical.
The BOL News TV anchor was presented in the court of Judicial Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Virk today amid tight security. He was represented by Barrister Mian Ali Ashfaq.
At the offset of the hearing, the prosecutor requested an extension in the suspect’s physical remand for 14 days.
Previous brushes with the law
This is the second time Riaz has been arrested by the investigation watchdog. He was previously nabbed last year in July near the outskirts of Islamabad.
Riaz had back then, in a video, directly addressed former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, alleging that he was threatened after asking questions from military sources about the country’s current political and economic situation.