Pakistan: Senior Pakistani journalist arrested after police raid

Senior journalist Mohsin Jamil Baig was arrested by Islamabad Police under the Anti-Terrorism Act on February 16 after a raid on his residence by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Pakistan affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), urge the authorities to immediately drop the charges against Baig and condemn the rising attacks on journalists in Pakistan.

Daily Jinnah senior journalist Mohsin Jamil Baig. Credit: Twitter

The journalist’s residence was stormed by the FIA at 9:30 am due to an alleged cybercrime complaint lodged by Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed. Baig, who is the owner and editor of newspaper Daily Jinnah and Online News Agency, was later apprehended by Islamabad police.  

During the raid, Baig allegedly held a pistol and pointed it towards FIA officers, a police inspector said

Two separate cases have been registered against Baig under sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Anti-Terrorist Act (ATA), with a First Information Report (FIR)  filed at Margalla police station. The FIA Cyber Crime Wing in Lahore also filed a separate case against the journalist under the Cybercrime Act.  

A spokesperson for Baig said that the FIA had no warrant for his arrest and claimed that Baig was beaten and his family members were harassed during the raid.  

According to the FIA, Baig, who has been openly critical of the Pakistan government’s policies, had used “immoral and abusive language” when discussing Minister Saeed on a talk show, alleging that Baig had “shattered” the federal minister’s public image.  

Following the arrest, Baig’s lawyer filed a petition against the “illegal detention” of the journalist and claimed that the FIA officers who raided his home were “not authorised to do so”. Baig’s arrest, which drew widespread criticism from Pakistani journalists, can be further linked to Pakistan’s Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, which criminalises free speech and gives law enforcement authorities overarching powers to clamp down on free speech.  

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) expressed deep concern over the incident, with Secretary General Rana Muhammad Azeem demanding that the Interior & Information Ministers share any allegations against Mohsin and ensure that he is given justice. 

The PFUJ said, “Such arrest without a warrant gives an impression that the country is not ruled by law. We demand a judicial probe into the matter.” 

The IFJ said: “The increasing number of charges against journalists for their legitimate reportage raises serious concerns for the suppression of press freedom in Pakistan. The IFJ calls on the authorities to withdraw all charges against Mohsin Jamil Baig and urges the Pakistani government to take action against the rising attacks on journalists in the country.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram