Wednesday Feb 16, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Journalist Mohsin Baig was arrested following a raid by the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) cybercrime wing, Geo News reported on Wednesday, citing his son.
The journalist has been critical of the government's policies and used to appear on TV talk shows as an analyst.
The FIA cybercrime wing raided the journalist's house in the federal capital today, along with the police, and took him into custody.
Speaking to Geo News, Baig’s son said that FIA officials in plainclothes came to their house earlier today and arrested his father.
“Initially, we thought that they (FIA personnel) are thieves and opened aerial fire, but later they introduced themselves as law enforcers. We also asked them to show arrest warrants but they didn’t have any. Meanwhile, a police party also came to our house.”
The FIA reportedly “faced resistance” during the raid and “dragged” the journalist to a van.
According to a press release issued by the investigation agency, the FIA raided Baig's house in F8 on the complaint of Minister for Communications Murad Saeed.
The statement further mentioned that the FIA conducted the raid after obtaining a search and seizure warrant from court.
"During the raid, Mohsin Baig and his son and servants directly fired at the FIA team and made two officials hostage," the press release said. It added that Baig was arrested after he ran out of bullets and was taken to Margalla police station where legal proceedings are underway.
According to the first information report (FIR, Baig had used immoral language for Murad Saeed in a talk show. It said Baig had related a "baseless story with derogatory remarks" which was subsequently shared on social media and had "shattered" the federal minister's image in public.
Following the arrest, Baig's lawyer Raheel Niazi filed a petition against the “illegal detention” of the journalist.
The petition was heard by additional sessions judge Justice Zafar Iqbal. The court appointed a bailiff, ordering the authorities to produce Baig in court.
Baig’s lawyer informed the judge that people in plainclothes came to his house earlier today and took the journalist with them.
The journalist and his family members sought arrest warrants and search warrants from the SP and DS; however, they defied all requests.
The lawyer further added that the officials in plainclothes smashed mobile phones and hit the children at the house, taking Baig with them.
Police sources said that the Baig is currently being interrogated at the Margalla police station. They revealed that his family called 15 and police immediately responded to the complaint.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad police spokesperson said that FIA faced resistance and Baig opened fire due to which an FIA official was injured.
“Baig has been transferred to the police station and further legal action is being taken,” the spokesperson said.
Condemning the arrest, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that Baig’s arrest has shown “Imran Khan’s weakness.”
“[PM] Imran Khan Imran Khan is afraid of self-criticism lest people become aware of his truth,” Bilawal said, adding that during PTI’s tenure, terrorists are fleeing while journalists are being arrested.
He further added that Baig was dragged in front of his family and arrested as if he was a terrorist.
“[The] PTI government should release journalist Mohsin Baig immediately,” Bilawal demanded.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif said the arrest of Mohsin Baig, who was once a friend of Imran Khan, shows how “panicked the regime is”.
Shahbaz said that Imran Khan gives “long sermons on democracy [and] morality but cannot stand even minor criticism.”
He was of the view that free speech has vastly been curtailed in the last 3.5 years of his rule. “It is the worst time in the nation's history,” he said.
Criticising Imran Khan, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that times have changed.
“No matter how much state power you use, you cannot save yourself,” she tweeted, adding that Imran Khan’s list of crimes includes not only taking revenge from his opponents but also using national and state agencies like the FIA to settle his personal scores.
“You will be held accountable,” she warned.
This is the second arrest made by law enforcement agencies during the last week over anti-government commentary.
On Monday, the FIA had arrested a social media activist for running trends against the prime minister on social media.
A case had been registered against the accused named Sabir Hashmi after the FIA cyber crime wing conducted an operation in Lahore’s Model Town area.
According to the FIA, Sabir was accused of running an “indecent” trend against PM Imran Khan. The agency has seized Hashmi’s mobile phone and other belongings.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), during which he expressed displeasure over the indecent trend that consisted of personal attacks.
Condemning the act, the premier called it “cheap and intolerable”, adding that “such elements cannot be left unchecked and their actions have to be condemned.”
On the other hand, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill on Sunday had said that the government had approached the country's courts against a journalist who issued "insulting and fabricated" statements about First Lady Bushra Bibi.
The SAPM said that "strict legal action will be taken against those who spread false news about the first lady."
A day ago, a journalist had claimed that Bushra Bibi had "gotten into a fight with PM Imran Khan" and had left Bani Gala for Lahore to stay at her friend, Farah Khan's house. The rumour soon started spreading on social media and WhatsApp groups.
When approached by Geo News, Farah Khan also refuted the news of the couple's alleged fight and separation and denied that the first lady was staying at her place.