PTI Senator Azam Swati was arrested on Thursday for allegedly tweeting a “highly obnoxious and intimidating message” against state institutions, including the army chief, according to a criminal complaint filed by the FIA.
Swati’s tweet named the army chief, and came after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz were acquitted in a high-profile money laundering case yesterday.
“Mr Bajwa congratulations to you and few with you. Your plan is really working and all criminals are getting free at cost of this country. With these thugs getting free, you have legitimised corruption. How you predict now the future of this country (sic),” he said.
Mr Bajwa congratulations to you and few with you . Your plan is really working and all criminals are getting free at cost of this country . With these thugs getting free You have legitimise corruption . How you predict now the future of this country ? pic.twitter.com/uZgHQjZ7lJ
— Senator Azam Khan Swati (@AzamKhanSwatiPk) October 12, 2022
Speaking to reporters outside a sessions court in the capital today, the PTI leader said he was not arrested for breaking the law, violating the Constitution or fundamental rights. He said he was arrested for “taking one name — of Bajwa — and that is the violation”.
When asked who arrested him, he said it was the FIA. When pressed about what case, he alleged he was tortured by “agencies”. “A parliamentarian has been unclothed,” he said. “I am telling the nation.”
The first information report registered at the FIA’s Cyber Crime Reporting Centre in Islamabad, a copy of which Dawn.com has seen, mentions 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”.
The FIR adds that such “intimidating tweet/s of blaming and naming through Twitter account i.e., @AzamKhanSwatiPK, is 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”.
Through the aforementioned tweet, the criminal complaint says, the accused “undermined the Judicial System of the country and also attempted to seduce Army Personnel/s from their allegiance to their duties as subordinates.
“This is calculated attempt to create hatred in the mind of people and Army Personnel/s against COAS and Pakistan Army and also created distrust towards Judicial System. In such intimidating Tweet/s, the accused Muhammad Azam Khan Swati has attempted to provoke general public and Personnel/s of Armed Forces by trying to create a feeling of ill-will among pillars of the State.”
It alleges Swati violated the privacy and intimidated the state institutions, by using false information, “which is likely to incite, any officer, soldier, sailor, or Airman in the Army, Navy or Air Force of Pakistan to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty as such and is also likely to cause fear or alarm in the public and may induce / incite anyone to commit an offence against the State or the State Institution/s or public tranquillity”.
The case was made out against the PTI leader under section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act-2016 read with 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.
PTI’s Babar Awan, Sardar Masroof Khan and Qaiser Jadoon appeared on Swati’s behalf in the Islamabad sessions court of senior Civil Judge Shabbir Bhatti.
The FIA requested eight-day physical remand. The lawyers, however, argued that he was arrested on political grounds. They, too, alleged he was tortured during the late-night detention.
The court sent Swati on two-day physical remand and ordered that the PTI leader be taken for a medical checkup before and after the remand period. It directed the authorities to present Swati before the court on October 15.
The court said in its written order that Swati had complained of being subjected to torture after being arrested at 3am on Thursday.
Moreover, it added, the FIA had informed the court that a “technical comparison” of Swati’s Twitter account had to be conducted.
The court said Swati was being sent on physical remand for two days for further investigation and the recovery of his other social media accounts.
Later, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that reports of Swati’s torture were “disturbing”. “Torturing political prisoners has become a new normal in Pakistan,” he added.
PTI-era human rights minister Shireen Mazari tweeted a video of Azam Swati alleging torture in custody.
“Brave man Senator Azam Swati as he tells of why he was arrested but also how he was subjected to torture while in custody,” she wrote. “Shameful.”
Earlier, Swati’s lawyer Babar Awan said “midnight jackals” came to the senator’s house and identified themselves as “FIA personnel,” he said while speaking to the media.
Awan said he was condemning the “arrest” on his, the nation’s and the PTI’s behalf.
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