Home Latest Investigation into Terrorism Leads to Detention of Pakistani Journalist Imran Riaz Khan

Investigation into Terrorism Leads to Detention of Pakistani Journalist Imran Riaz Khan

Investigation into Terrorism Leads to Detention of Pakistani Journalist Imran Riaz Khan

Investigation into Terrorism Leads to Rearrest of Pakistani Journalist Imran Riaz Khan

Following his release on bail in a corruption case on March 1, Imran Riaz Khan, a Pakistani journalist known for his popular current affairs YouTube channel with approximately 4.6 million subscribers, was promptly re-arrested on separate terrorism charges just hours later. The arrest took place outside a court in Lahore, according to various media reports and statements from Azhar Siddique, one of Khan’s legal representatives, who spoke to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator, Beh Lih Yi, urged Pakistani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Imran Riaz Khan, stressing the importance of halting the detention of journalists as a form of retaliation against their work or commentary. Yi highlighted Khan’s detention as emblematic of a broader crackdown on press freedom in Pakistan and called upon the newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to put an end to such intimidation tactics against the media.

Shehbaz Sharif was elected as prime minister for a second term on Sunday, following the national elections held on February 8, which were marred by allegations of vote-rigging and delayed results. Sharif previously held the same position between April 2022 and August 2023.

An anti-terrorism court ordered Khan’s detention for five days in police custody, extending until March 6, for further investigation, as per a court order reviewed by CPJ. Subsequently, Khan was transferred to an undisclosed location outside Lahore, according to Siddique and a journalist familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisals.

Khan’s arrest stemmed from accusations of attacking police officials and damaging government vehicles during a protest by supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore on March 14, 2023, as described by Siddique, who denounced the case as “fake and fabricated.”

At the time of the incident, Khan was reporting for BOL News, where he served as a news anchor, as confirmed by Faysal Aziz Khan, BOL Network’s President and Chief News Officer, in communication with CPJ via a messaging app.

The court ordered Khan’s remand in police custody based on a March 2023 police first information report (FIR), which alleged offenses including stone-pelting, throwing petrol bombs, and intervening in state matters. Siddique claimed that neither he nor his client had received a copy of the report.

Furthermore, Khan is embroiled in a separate case involving allegations of involvement in a corrupt land deal. Police arrested him on February 22 during a night raid on his Lahore residence, seizing his personal devices. He was granted bail on March 1 before being re-arrested on terrorism charges later that day.

In an interview with the BBC prior to his recent arrest, Khan discussed his previous detainment, suggesting that this interview may have contributed to his subsequent arrest. The interview was part of a BBC documentary titled “Pakistan: Journalists Under Fire,” released on February 16, where Khan recounted being held in solitary confinement without access to legal representation for 142 days following his arrest in May 2023 at Punjab’s Sialkot Airport.

Khan’s earlier arrest in 2023 occurred amidst a broader crackdown on supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, following Imran Khan’s ousting after a no-confidence vote in 2022 and subsequent imprisonment on corruption charges in 2023.

Khan, who frequently hosts PTI supporters on his talk show and shares pro-PTI content on his YouTube channel, had been previously arrested in July 2022 and February 2023 for his political commentary. Additionally, he was summoned by the Federal Investigation Agency’s cybercrime wing in January and February for questioning over alleged involvement in an anti-judiciary campaign.


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