ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Thursday released a PTI social media activist who was detained under the controversial cyber crime law.
Salar Sultanzai, a former information secretary of the party’s Balochistan chapter and founder of the PTI’s cyber force, was asked to appear before the FIA Counter Terrorism Wing and according to a senior party leader he was questioned about his recent social media posts over the Dawn Leaks issue.
Talking to The Express Tribune, senior PTI leader Qasim Khan Suri said: “Salar has been released. His statement has been recorded by the FIA, while investigations are in process.”
Amid uproar over the detention of Sultanzai by the senior PTI leadership, including party chairman Imran Khan, the interior ministry also released statistics about the number of cyber crime cases it registered during the current government and people arrested in this connection.
According to the information submitted before parliament on Wednesday, the interior ministry said that since 2013, when the PML-N government came to power, the cyber crime wing of the FIA had registered some 894 cases against individuals, while it arrested 689 accused.
The government informed the lower house of parliament that out of 894 cases registered under cyber crimes, some 179 have been decided while the rest are pending with the FIA.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan recently ordered the cyber crime wing of the FIA to take action against those involved in an anti-army campaign on social media platforms against the backdrop of the Dawn Leaks settlement.
A PTI leader said Sultanzai was released by the FIA after the party managed to obtain his bail orders from court.
Earlier, confirming investigations against him, Sultanzai said the FIA had asked him to submit his cell phone and laptop.
“The arrest of PTI activist under the draconian cyber crime law is a clear cut threatening message to a party that enjoys strong following on social media,” said PTI spokesperson.
Senior PTI leader Saifullah Khan Niazi in his message said “wish [the] FIA was as quick to arrest Dawn Leaks culprits as it did in case of Salar for speaking the truth”.
The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB), which was opposed by the opposition and rights activists, was passed by the government in August last year through a majority vote. The law provides for imprisonment up to five years and the fine amounting to Rs10 million on violators.
While rejecting the law opposition lawmakers and rights activists had pointed out that it would be used for victimisation of political foes.
The PTI chief had said that the government was abusing the cyber crime law to politically victimise PTI’s social media activists by threatening and arresting them which, he said, was unacceptable in a democracy.