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FIA summons journalist Asad Toor for investigation

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has issued a notice to journalist Asad Ali Toor to appear before it and record his statement in an inquiry over the denigration of a state institution through social media platforms.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cyber Crime Reporting Centre in Rawalpindi sent the notice titled ‘Order for attendance under Section 160 CrPC for a recording of a statement’, to the journalist’s Islamabad residence on Monday.

According to the notice, criminal proceedings could be initiated against the journalist in case of non-compliance. FIA Cyber Crime Rawalpindi was conducting a probe regarding “defamation of institution of Government of Pakistan through social media on the complaint of one Fayyaz Mehmood Raja, read the notice.

“The available facts suggest that you are well aware of the facts/circumstances of said inquiry,” FIA said in the notice. “Therefore, you are instructed to appear before the undersigned at FIA police station, Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, Rawalpindi on June 4, 2021, at 11 am to answer such question as put forth to you, it added.

However, the notice did not specify which institution the inquiry concerned. Earlier in 2020, Asad Toor was accused of defaming the military and also faced a court case in this regard.

The journalist had allegedly indulged in propaganda against Pakistan and its institutions on social media for a long time, police had said.

Later, the Lahore High Court absolved him of the charges after the FIA prosecutor told the court that no evidence was found to support the charges.

Unknown armed men assaulted Asad Toor

On 25 May 2021, three unknown armed men assaulted a prominent journalist and YouTuber, Asad Ali Toor, after breaking into his house in Sector F-10 Islamabad, in what appears to be the latest incident of violence against press freedom in the country.

Asad Ali Toor in a statement to police said that the attack took place late on Tuesday night when he heard the doorbell of his apartment. “The attackers at the door pointed a pistol towards him and said that you should step back, said Haider Imtiaz, Toor’s lawyer and a member of the Pakistan Bar Council’s Journalist Defence Committee.

“He tried to run away but the attackers shouted that if you don’t step back we will shoot you.” Toor was dragged to his bedroom where he was bound, gagged and beaten by the attacker and two others who had come in with him, according to Toor’s statement.

“They threw me on the floor hard and told me not to make a sound or they would shoot me,” the statement says. Toor says the attackers identified themselves as belonging to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Toor said he was questioned on the sources of his income and “funding”, and was forced to shout out slogans praising Pakistan, its military, and the ISI, as well as denouncing India, northwestern neighbor Afghanistan and Israel.

Journalists protest

Later, different journalist organizations and civil society members gathered in Islamabad to hold a demonstration against the assault on journalist Asad Ali Toor on Wednesday.

At a demonstration outside the press club in the capital of Islamabad on Wednesday, dozens of people protested against the attack on Toor and called for accountability for those who have attacked journalists in the past.

Senior journalist Hamid Mir accused Pakistan’s military and other security agencies of harassing and attacking journalists, saying that the statement reflected that the government was showing no seriousness in investigating cases of violence against journalists.