February 16th, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
Mohsin Baig, a media owner, was arrested on Friday from his residence in Islamabad in connection with a cyber defamation case filed by Federal Minister Murad Saeed following an armed scuffle with officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
According to a statement issued by the investigation agency, a cybercrime team raided Baig’s residence in the federal capital in connection with a case registered against him by the agency cybercrime reporting office in Lahore on the complaint of Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed. The FIA officials had obtained a search and seizure warrant from the relevant court. Baig is the owner of the Online news agency and Urdu daily Jinnah.
Baig fired at FIA officials, held them hostage: agency
“During the raid, Mohsin Baig and his son and servants directly fired at the FIA team and tortured two officials after taking them hostage,” reads the FIA statement. It said a video of the incident was being released shortly. “After running out of bullets, Baig was arrested and taken to Margalla police station where legal proceedings were underway,” the FIA said. The agency said that the accused and his son and servants had committed a grave crime by firing at state officials.
Remanded in police custody
According to news reports, Baig was remanded in police custody for three days by a local court after police charged him with offences relating to rioting with deadly weapon, obstruction of public servant in discharge of public functions, attempted murder, assault on public servants and spreading fear under the anti-terrorism act.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Baig said the FIA offcials had tortured him in police custody. He denied saying anything to defame the federal minister as he had just quoted a book authored by Reham Khan, former wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan, which was available in print and online. “Murad Saeed should have either contradicted the book’s author or sued her,” he said in response to a question.
Shahbaz Gill, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication, shared a video in which Baig is seen holding a gun, manhandling an unidentified individual, said to be a FIA official.
FIA refused to show warrants, ID cards: Baig’s lawyer
Earlier, Raheel Niazi, Baig’s counsel, told reporters that the FIA officials, who were not wearing uniform, barged into his client’s residence and refused to show identification cards when asked. The officials also did not have arrest warrants with them as claimed, Niazi said.
Raheel Niazi moved a petition in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal for his client’s recovery, said Dawn. The judge appointed a bailiff and ordered Baig to be produced before the court.
Cyber defamation case
According to the FIA, the cybercrime case against Baig was registered in connections under Sections 20, 21-D and 24 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 read with Sections 500 and 555 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The cybercrime sections relate to offences against the dignity of a natural person, modesty of a natural person and minor and cyber stalking while the PPC offences include defamation of army officers and statement causing public mischief.
In his complaint to the FIA lodged on February 16, Murad Saeed said Baig had assassinated his character by using immoral and abusive language in a talk show hosted by Gharida Farooqi last week.
In the show, Baig had questioned the decision to award Saeed the top rank among 10 best performing ministers. The complaint accused Baig of relating a baseless story with derogatory remarks which had shattered the federal minister’s image in public after being shared on social media. The comments had caused disgrace to the minister’s personality and created uncertainty in the public, according to the minister’s complaint.
Following Baig’s arrest, senior journalists Hamid Mir, Asma Shirazi and Munizae Jahangir condemned the government for silencing critical voices in the country. Opposition leaders Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto also slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan for stifling freedom of expression in the country.