Shahid Aslam was arrested last 7 days around report on alleged wealth of Common Qamar Javed Bajwa, the former army chief, and his spouse and children.
Islamabad, Pakistan – A court docket in Islamabad has requested the launch of journalist Shahid Aslam on bail in a circumstance associated to the alleged leak of tax knowledge for previous army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and his family.
Aslam, a reporter with Bol Information, was arrested past 7 days in the eastern town of Lahore by the Federal Investigation Agency, immediately after which he was moved to Islamabad.
Aslam was charged with sharing facts concerning individual tax facts of Normal Bajwa and his family members with the news site FactFocus, which posted it in November, times in advance of the army chief’s retirement.
Aslam denied that he was guiding the leak.
The FactFocus report accused Bajwa and his spouse and children of amassing assets worthy of nearly $52m and introduced formal tax documents and prosperity statements to substantiate the allegations.
Aslam’s arrest was condemned by media and civil legal rights groups, who accused the govt of pressuring the media into silence. The Committee to Shield Journalists criticised the arrest.
“The arrest of reporter Shahid Aslam underscores the unsafe atmosphere for journalists in Pakistan,” Beh Lih Yi, its Asia programme coordinator, mentioned in a statement.
“Authorities have to straight away and unconditionally launch Aslam and respect his appropriate to privateness and the confidentiality of his sources as guaranteed below the country’s journalist safety regulation,” she reported.
The Human Rights Fee of Pakistan stated the arrest not only restricted Aslam’s independence of expression, but “such methods set the perilous precedent of obstructing the perform of investigative journalists”.
This thirty day period, Human Rights Observe warned, “Space for free of charge expression and dissent in Pakistan is fast shrinking.”
“Pakistan’s politicians are locked in a ability battle in which a totally free media and vivid civil society are the casualties,” it reported.
Pakistan was ranked 157 out of 180 international locations on the 2022 push liberty index, printed each year by Reporters Without having Borders. It represented a decrease of 12 positions from the 2021 rankings.
Islamabad-based lawyer Aftab Alam, an skilled on media laws, mentioned, “Sedition legislation in other countries are becoming eradicated, but we still use it.”
“This is a legacy of colonial-period guidelines, and frequently we have found their utilization in the name of nationwide interests or to avert so-known as fake information,” he told Al Jazeera.
“These steps by authorities are a way to regulate the masses,” he stated. “Our guidelines involve reforms.”