Home Uncategorized Authorities in Pakistan launch Criminal Investigation into Anchor Sami Abraham.

Authorities in Pakistan launch Criminal Investigation into Anchor Sami Abraham.

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Authorities in Pakistan launch Criminal Investigation into Anchor Sami Abraham.

On May 6, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) initiated an inquiry into Sami Abraham, an anchor associated with the privately owned broadcaster BOL News and the host of a current affairs YouTube channel boasting approximately 500,000 subscribers. This action was reported through news sources and confirmed via a press release issued by the FIA.

According to correspondence from the office of Ambreen Jan, director-general of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s external publicity wing, Abraham’s actions seemed to contravene Article 19 of the Pakistan constitution, which governs freedom of speech and imposes limitations based on the “integrity, security, or defense of Pakistan.” This assessment was based on a video Abraham published on May 2.

In the video, Abraham discussed an alleged foreign plot to remove former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote on April 10.

Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator based in Washington, D.C., emphasized the importance of upholding press freedom, particularly during political transitions. He urged authorities to cease legal harassment against journalists like Sami Abraham and to drop the inquiry initiated under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.

The FIA, in its press release, cited Section 20 of the 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act as the basis for their inquiry. This section criminalizes the dissemination of information that tarnishes an individual’s dignity. The authorities accused Abraham of disseminating “fake news” about state institutions and attempting to incite military personnel to rebellion.

Abraham was served a notice to appear at the FIA’s Cybercrime Reporting Center in Islamabad on May 13. However, as he was abroad at the time, the FIA announced its intention to issue a red notice against him via Interpol.

In response, Abraham stated on Twitter that he had consulted his legal counsel and intended to take appropriate legal action upon his return to Pakistan on May 14. He also released a video on May 8 refuting any allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

If charged and convicted under Section 20, Abraham could face imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of 1 million rupees (approximately US$5,328). CPJ has consistently documented instances where the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act has been used to intimidate and harass journalists.

The FIA assured that Abraham would be given an opportunity to defend himself during the inquiry. If found guilty, the authorities can file a first information report, which initiates an investigation and grants them the power to detain him.

Following the appointment of Shehbaz Sharif as Pakistan’s new prime minister on April 11, Marriyum Aurangzeb, the newly appointed Minister of Information and Broadcasting, announced on April 19 that the government would review the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, particularly focusing on sections where freedom of expression was deemed to be misinterpreted.

On May 9, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued directives cautioning private electronic media companies against making derogatory remarks about state institutions, including the military and judiciary.

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