ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) slammed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for harassing and intimidating journalist Rana Mohammad Arshad.
The detailed order issued by the IHC held that the FIA had acted with haste and recklessness which resulted in the harrassment of the journalist and his family during a raid at the journalist’s house.
Arshad’s lawyers argued that because the journalist shared pro-democracy opinions on social media, he was being harassed by the FIA’s Cybercrime Wing.
On the other hand, the investigating officer submitted a written report in which he claimed to have visited the journalist’s house only to verify his address and for no other reason.
The Islamabad High Court held that the investigation officer did not provide any evidence of wrongdoing against the journalist.
“He has further stated that, during the course of the investigation, no incriminating material whatsoever could be collected against the petitioner,” read the IHC’s order.
“In response to the query of this Court, he explained that the petitioner was summoned because the cellular number mentioned in the complaint was registered in his name. He could not give a plausible explanation for sending the undated notice or failure to disclose the purpose for summoning the petitioner,” stated the court.
The IHC said in the detailed order that the petitioner had claimed that he was harassed because of his critical views on social media against state functionaries.
“Such an apprehension or fear in the mind of a person who is engaged in the occupation of reporting and dissemination of information to the public not only undermines the independence of the occupation but is intolerable in a society governed under a Constitution,” stated the IHC.
“Freedom of speech and expression is the most cherished human right and fortifies the other constitutionally guaranteed rights.”
“The state and its agents cannot be allowed to use power and authority to silence voices and to retaliate against critical reporting or dissent. Only informed citizens having access to an independent and free press can ensure progress, prosperity and security of the state,” stated the IHC’s order.