Quetta court remands Azam Swati in police custody for 5 days

A district court in Quetta remanded PTI Senator Azam Swati in police custody for five days on Sunday, a week after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested him in Islamabad in a case pertaining to controversial tweets against the military.

Swati’s arrest last week was the second time the senator was taken into custody by the FIA in less than two months over strong tweets about senior military leaders. He was arrested after the FIA booked him in a case registered under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (Peca), which deals with offences against the dignity of a person.

Meanwhile, he was also nominated in multiple first information reports registered in Balochistan and Sindh for using “derogatory language” and “provoking the people against the army”.

The senator was shifted to Quetta aboard a special flight amid tight security on Friday after the judicial magistrate of Islamabad handed him over to the Balochistan police.

From Quetta airport, he was taken to an unknown place and handed over to Balochistan Police on transit remand, a Dawn report said, adding that authorities were directed to present him before the court on December 4 (today).

Subsequently, Swati was presented before duty magistrate Sattar Bugti today in a case registered against him at Kuchlak Police Station, with police seeking his 10-day physical remand.

The magistrate, however, approved his physical remand for five days.

After the approval of Swati’s remand, PTI leader Qasim Suri said while speaking to the media outside the court that the FIR against Swati was “baseless”. He added that they would be consulting lawyers on approaching the high court on the matter.

Suri claimed Swati was “unwell” and that “FIRs were registered against other PTI leaders, including party chief Imran Khan, as well”.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Yasmin Rashid said Swati was being victimised “in the worst way possible for no crime other than voicing the criminality unleashed on him”.

In Balochistan, cases against Swati have also been registered at Bela, Hub, Khuzdar, Pasni and Zhob police stations.

Arrests over tweets

Swati was first arrested by the FIA on charges of posting controversial tweets about the armed forces in October and was later released on bail.

The senator has alleged since that he was tortured in custody and demanded the removal of two military officials, one of whom he used foul language against in his tweet on November 26.

On November 27, the FIA arrested Swati for the second time over a “highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets […] against state institutions”.

The arrest came after an FIR was registered by the FIA on the complaint of the state through Islamabad Cyber Crime Reporting Centre (CCRC) Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman.

The complaint was registered under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (Peca) which deals with offences against dignity of a person as well as Sections 131 (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier from his duty),500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (defamation and printing of content deemed defamatory), Section 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Meanwhile, separate FIRs were registered against the PTI leader in Balochistan and Sindh as well.

Following his arrest in November, the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (Pemra) prohibited media coverage of Swati on all satellite TV channels.

On Thursday, an Islamabad court sent the senator on 14-day judicial remand and he was later taken to Balochistan.

This was after Swati moved a petition before the Islamabad High Court against shifting him outside the jurisdiction of the federal capital in view of the multiple cases filed against him.

The plea requested the court to restrain the res­p­­ondent authorities from handi­ng over Swati to the Sindh or Balochistan pol­ice until the record was produced before the court.

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