August 23, 2022
Pakistani state authorities have detained BOL News journalist Jameel Farooqi following accusations of 'anti-state' statements posted to his YouTube channel. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), urge the government to withdraw the case against Farooqi and protect press freedom.
Farooqi was charged following a First Information Report (FIR) registered on August 21 by magistrate Aimal Khan at Ramna Police Station under several sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PCC) relating to defamation and the obstruction of public servants.
The FIR stated that Farooqi's reporting on police conduct was tantamount to interference with the case. Farooqi, a YouTuber and anchorperson at BOL News, was arrested the same night while leaving the BOL news office and will appear in court on August 23.
Farooqi commented on the treatment of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill by law enforcement, alleging that members of the Islamabad Capital Police (ICP) sexually and physically assaulted Gill during his August 9 arrest. The Islamabad Capital Police have, in turn, alleged that Farooqi made false accusations against law enforcement.
On August 22, Karachi's district and sessions court granted Islamabad Police a three-day transitionary remand of Farooqi and ordered police to inform Farooqi's family of his whereabouts.
In a video posted to social media on August 23, Farooqi can be seen handcuffed at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport, accompanied by an Islamabad Police official. Farooqui claimed in the video that he was beaten after having his clothes stripped off.
On August 21, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banned live speeches from former Prime Minister Imran Khan. PEMRA has blocked the transmission of pro-Khan news organizations, including ARY News on August 10 and Farooqi's network BOL News on August 22.
PFUJ President GM Jamali and Secretary General Rana Azeem said: "Police must follow the law of the land if someone has committed a crime. If Farooqui must be charged all proceedings should be carried out properly. We completely condemn any illegal arrests of assault of any media persons, this abuse of power will not be tolerated."
The IFJ said: "The IFJ urges the Pakistani authorities to withdraw the charges against Jameel Farooqui and to cease the concerning harassment and intimidation of media workers without justification. The fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press must be protected in Pakistan."—IFJ media release
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