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Friday, July 19, 2024  
13 Muharram 1446  

Azam Swati’s bail plea distances him from controversial tweet

Plea filed by lawyer Babar Awan says tweets not posted by petitioner
Senator Azam Swati. Photo: Screengrab/File
Senator Azam Swati. Photo: Screengrab/File

Senator Azam Swati’s post-arrest bail plea, filed by his lawyer Babar Awan in the Islamabad High Court Saturday, states that the PTI leader did not post the tweets against state institutions, including the one in which he sarcastically congratulated then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa over PM Shehbaz Sharif’s acquittal in a money laundering case.

The senator was first arrested from his farmhouse in the middle of the night and presented in the court. He was remanded to FIA custody. A week later, on October 21, he was granted bail after appearing in court with his shirt collar torn.

Swati was arrested for the second time on November 27 after the FIA booked him over a “highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets […] against state institutions”. Meanwhile, multiple FIRs were lodged against Swati in Balochistan and Sindh on similar charges. Several complaints alleged that he was working on an ‘anti-Pakistan agenda’. The FIA presented him in court and were granted two-day physical remand.

Earlier this week, the senator approached a special court in Islamabad for bail. However, Special Judge Central Azam Khan dismissed the plea ruling that he had “committed the same offence twice”.

Following that, on Saturday, Swati filed a post-arrest bail petition through his lawyer Babar Awan in the Islamabad High Court, challenging the special court’s orders.

Petition

The bail plea says that Swati falsely implicated due to political influences of a hostile regime and the cases against him were registered with malafide intention.

It claims that Swati was earlier remanded into FIA’s custody but nothing “incriminating” was recovered from him and hence he was sent to jail on judicial remand.

The plea names the state and Anees-Ur-Rehman, the technical assistant at FIA’s Cybercrime Reporting Centre in Islamabad, as respondents. The FIA criminal complaint was filed through Rehman.

It contends that the entire case against Swati consisted of a “documented allegation” and that there was no “useful purpose” of keeping him in custody. “The investigation in the case has already been completed and the petitioner is no more required for the purpose of investigation.”

The plea also pointed out that the “alleged tweets were not posted by the petitioner nor he had any intention to defame any respectable institution” and that the prosecution had no evidence against him.

The complaint

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered a case against Swati under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. It was read with sections 131 (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier from his duty), 500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 109 (punishment of abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The first information report registered at the FIA’s Cyber Crime Reporting Centre in Islamabad mentioned that Swati tweeted with “malafide intentions & ulterior motives” against “State Institutes of The Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its Senior Government Functionaries including Chief of The Army Staff of Pakistan Army”.

It said that Swati’s tweet was “a mischievous act of subversion to create a rift between personnel/s of The Armed Forces and an attempt to harm the State of Pakistan”.

The second FIR against Swati was filed under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) and sections 109 (derogatory remarks), 131 (abetting mutiny) 500, 501 and 505 (defamation) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Moved around

During his arrest, Swati was moved around cities during the time he was in custody. Originally arrested from his farmhose in Islamabad on November 27, Swati was moved to Quetta on December 2, as there were multiple cases registered against him in Balochistan. After the Balochistan High Court quashed all cases against him, he was moved to Sindh last Friday.

Meanwhile, a controversial video also emerged on social media purportedly of Azam Swati with his wife. The PTI leader, in an emotional press conference, revealed how the video was sent to his wife.

The PTI leadership claimed that it was part of intimdatory tactics used by the Establishment to ensure people toed the line.

In several other press conferences, Swati said that he was stripped and beaten in front of his family while he was in custody. He also named intelligence officials who he claimed were behind the alleged custodial torture.

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