Controversial tweets case: Azam Swati released from Islamabad sub-jail

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ISLAMABAD, JAN 3: Senator Azam Swati, who had been in detention since late November over his controversial tweets about senior military officers, was released from an Islamabad sub-jail on Tuesday.

Swati was arrested on November 27 after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) booked him in Islamabad over a “highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets […] against state institutions”.

It was the second time that Swati was booked and arrested by the FIA over his tweets about army officials in less than two months.

Last month, 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”.

Subsequently, Swati filed a post-arrest bail petition through his lawyer Babar Awan in the IHC, challenging the special court’s orders.

On Monday, the IHC approved Swati’s post-arrest bail against the submission of surety bonds worth Rs200,000.

Earlier today, Swati’s lawyers presented a copy of the IHC’s ruling in the court of Special Judge Central Azam Khan as well as the receipt of the surety bonds.

The judge subsequently issued Swati’s release orders following which the PTI leader’s lawyers went to the Crime Intelligence Agency (CIA) building, which had been declared sub-jail in November, to complete the legal formalities.

Speaking to the media after being released, Swati alleged that the country’s justice system was “on the ventilator”. He also questioned the registration of multiple first information reports (FIRs) against him.

“How is it possible that FIRs were lodged against me in the entire country but the justice system was sleeping?”

He also blamed those responsible for the case against him of running the country’s institutions into the ground. Swati further said that institutions were being destroyed because a select few were running the government.

He urged the nation to side with PTI chief Imran Khan, saying that he was fighting for the country’s survival. He alleged that Pakistan’s “internal and external enemies” wanted to destabilise the country but asserted that these forces would fail.

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 Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman.

The complaint was registered under Section 20 of Peca 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 PPC.

Following his arrest in November, the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority prohibited Swati’s media coverage on all satellite TV channels.

Separate FIRs were also registered against the PTI leader in Balochistan and Sindh as well.

On December 2, Swati was brought to Quetta from Islamabad in one such case, registered at the Kuchlak police station, a day after a court in the capital approved his 14-day judicial remand.

But on December 9, the Balochistan High Court ordered the quashing of all five cases initially registered against him in the province.

Hours after the order was issued, the PTI senator was handed over to Sindh police while his lawyer said two new cases were registered against Swati in Balochistan. Later, another case was registered against Swati in Balochistan.

The cases were registered under Sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc), 124A (sedition), and 123A (condemnation of the creation of the State, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) of the PPC.

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 Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman.

The complaint was registered under Section 20 of Peca 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 PPC.

Following his arrest in November, the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority prohibited Swati’s media coverage on all satellite TV channels.

Separate FIRs were also registered against the PTI leader in Balochistan and Sindh as well.

On December 2, Swati was brought to Quetta from Islamabad in one such case, registered at the Kuchlak police station, a day after a court in the capital approved his 14-day judicial remand.

But on December 9, the Balochistan High Court ordered the quashing of all five cases initially registered against him in the province.

Hours after the order was issued, the PTI senator was handed over to Sindh police while his lawyer said two new cases were registered against Swati in Balochistan. Later, another case was registered against Swati in Balochistan.

The cases were registered under Sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc), 124A (sedition), and 123A (condemnation of the creation of the State, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) of the PPC.

On December 13, the SHC restrained police from arresting Swati in cases registered against him within the limits of SHC’s Hyderabad registry and Karachi and on December 15, the SHC directed provincial authorities to disposed of all cases against Swati as C-Class.

At the same hearing, the Sindh prosecutor general had informed the court that Swati had been shifted back to Islamabad, where his judicial remand was extended for another 15 days in the FIA case.

Recently, the BHC ordered the quashing of three remaining FIRs registered against the senator in the province.