Hamza Azhar Salam refuses to apologise to Malik Riaz

LAHORE/DUBAI: Journalist Hamza Azhar Salam has refused to apologise to Bahria Town Chairman Malik Riaz after the latter issued a legal notice demanding an apology and 10 billion rupees in damages.

In a legal notice sent by Azhar Siddique, who also represents Imran Khan and Farah Gogi, Malik Riaz alleged that The Pakistan Daily‘s story regarding Farah Gogi travelling on a Bahria Town plane was based on a false premise.

Hamza Azhar Salam shared a flight manifest from April 2019, showing how Farhat Shahzadi aka Farah Gogi travelled to Dubai to sell the priceless Graff set gifted to the state of Pakistan by Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman.

During the communication between the legal teams, journalist Hamza Azhar Salam revealed that threats from Bahria Town had intensified after he reported that Malik Riaz had facilitated the sale of the Graff set which was sold by Farah Gogi to Umar Farooq Zahoor in Dubai in April 2019.

“At first, the threats were muted implying that (Bahria Town) could venture outside the legal realm in this case but after I refused to delete my story, they became more brazen, suggesting that I could be arrested in a fake case or face an accident,” Salam told The Pakistan Daily.

Responding to Malik Riaz’s legal notice, Barrister Yasser Latif Hamdani who is representing Salam wrote that his client would not apologise since no defamation took place.

Barrister Hamdani schooled Azhar Siddique for misreading the educational credentials of his client Hamza Azhar Salam who has a master’s degree in Interactive Journalism from, City, University of London and confusing them with those of his principal counsel, who has an LLM from the University of Pennsylvania.

Responding to Malik Riaz’s demand to see the relevant documentation of The Pakistan Daily, Barrister Hamdani wrote: “My client is under no obligation to provide you any documentation pertaining to his news organisation.”

Barrister Hamdani also wrote that his client Hamza Azhar Salam would “relish” an opportunity to present evidence regarding his story in a court of law.

Earlier, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders condemned the threats issued to journalist Hamza Azhar Salam on the behest of Bahria Town Chairman, Malik Riaz.

“This type of threat is absolutely unacceptable,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “Regardless of their power and the brutality of the methods they otherwise employ, the business community cannot use threats to block the revelation of matters that are of major interest to the citizens of Pakistan. We call on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government to do whatever is necessary to ensure that Hamza Azhar Salam is protected and to guarantee respect for the rule of law.”

Daniel Bastard called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to provide security to journalist Hamza Azhar Salam and that respect for the rule of law is guaranteed in the case.

Hamza Azhar Salam has also shared his exclusive correspondence with the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency revealing that the £190 million fined by the NCA belonged to the state of Pakistan, not the Supreme Court.

Exclusive correspondence between NCA and Hamza Azhar Salam.

Malik Riaz’s team has warned Hamza Azhar Salam not to further investigate the NCA story, threatening “dire consequences” for The Pakistan Daily if the news organisation continued to report on the NCA case.

“I know that in the end, Malik Riaz’s billions will win and my principles will lose because Malik sb is the real owner of Pakistan and journalists’ shouldn’t live in any illusions but till I can, I will continue doing my work without bowing down to the man who institutionalised corruption in my country,” Salam told The Pakistan Daily.

Malik Riaz has denied the entirety of Hamza Azhar Salam’s story and has sought an apology, failing which he has threatened to take the matter to courts.

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