Suspect accused of blasphemy on social media seeks bail from ATC

Published: April 30, 2017
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The petitioner, who is said to be a college professor, had filed the post-arrest bail application stating that he was not involved in spreading blasphemous content on social media.  PHOTO: AFP

The petitioner, who is said to be a college professor, had filed the post-arrest bail application stating that he was not involved in spreading blasphemous content on social media. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A man facing charges of committing blasphemy on social media has sought bail from an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday, claiming he had no connection with the crime and “cannot even think of committing blasphemy”.

ATC Judge Syed Kausar Zaidi though issued notices to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the complainant Hafiz Ehtesham Ahmed for May 2.

ATC extends remand of blasphemy suspects

The petitioner, who is said to be a college professor, had filed the post-arrest bail application stating that he was not involved in spreading blasphemous content on social media. He further claimed that he was innocent and urged the court to grant him bail.

The FIA had on March 19 registered an FIR which included blasphemy sections such as 295-A, 295-B, 295-C, 298, 298-A, 298-B, 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 11 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, (PECA) and Sections 6-f, 7-h, 8 and 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1999. No particular suspect had been named in the FIR.

Subsequently, the investigation agency authorised to probe cases filed under PECA 2016, had arrested four suspects in the case. At a previous hearing, the ATC had sent the suspects to Adiala jail on judicial remand till May 4 over their alleged involvement in publishing blasphemous content on social media.

Not real suspects

Meanwhile, Ahmed, the spokesperson of the Shuhada Foundation, released a statement on Saturday stating that the four men currently in FIA custody for blasphemy on social media were not the real suspects.

Blasphemous content online: IHC sends four to jail on remand

In the statement, Ahmed said that Salman Shahid – son-in-law of Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid – had filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court which led to an FIR being registered.

However, Ahmed claimed that the FIA had not taken any action in this regard.

Earlier, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of IHC while hearing Shahid’s petition had observed that availability of blasphemous material on social media had a direct bearing on the integrity, security and defence of the country.

Justice Siddiqui had further said that all institutions need to rise to the occasion and protect the ideological and geographical boundaries of the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2017.

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