By M Zulqernain
Lahore, Feb 11 (PTI) A Pakistani television host accused of making defamatory remarks against the government, judiciary and intelligence agencies has been released on bail.
Rizwan Razi, who hosts a talk shown on Din News, was arrested on Saturday from his residence in Lahore by the cyber crime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). According to the FIA, the initial investigation revealed that Razi's social media posts were made through his Twitter account.
The FIA sought extension of the journalist's remand on Sunday, but the court rejected it and granted bail to Razi against a surety bond of Rs one lakh, Razi's counsel said.
He said that the magistrate said that the suspect should avoid discussing armed forces and judiciary in his programmes and "it is a test for him, and his shows and posts on social media will be monitored."
Razi's counsel argued that the arrest of his client was against the freedom of expression and that he did not commit any crime as he was arrested without any complaint.
The FIA said that the initial investigation had revealed that Razi's posts against the Pakistan Army and judiciary were made through his Twitter account.
The journalist was booked under Sections 11 and 20 of the Pakistan Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, (PPECA) 2016, a cyber-crime law which had been widely criticised by civil rights campaigners as 'draconian' at the time of its passage by the Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N government.
The section 11 pertains to hate speech and can carry a prison sentence of up to seven years, as well as a fine.
Section 20 pertains to "offences against the dignity of a natural person" and carries "imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to Rs 1 million".
Apart from the PPECA, he was also booked under Sections 123-A and 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of the state.
According to the FIR, an inquiry has been initiated against Razi for allegedly uploading "defamatory and obnoxious posts" through a social media account on Twitter against judiciary, government institutions and intelligence agencies.
Razi earlier had joined the investigation, and in his statement, he confessed to having uploaded obnoxious posts against the judiciary and other departments through his Twitter account since 2011," the FIR said, adding that the suspect had apologised.
However, he did not stop this practice, the FIA said.
The journalist bodies as well as the opposition parties Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have condemned the arrest of Razi and also demanded his immediate release. PTI MZ SMJ AKJ SMJ