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Court extends journalist Shahzeb Jillani’s interim bail till April 17

April 15, 2019

A Karachi court extended on Monday journalist Shahzeb Jillani’s interim bail in a case registered against him under the Pakistan Penal Code and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act. 

South District and Sessions Judge Imdad Hussain Khoso adjourned the hearing till Wednesday, April 17. The FIA will appear before the court on Wednesday where it is expected to present the case’s challan. Jillani is a senior journalist who has worked with BBC News for many years in Washington, Beirut and London. He has written for The Friday Times, The News, Deutsche Welle among other places. He has worked in television, print, online and radio.

The FIA registered a case against Jillani on April 6 on a complaint filed by Maulvi Muhammad Iqbal Haider, an advocate.

The case has been registered under sections 10(a) (cyber terrorism), 11 (hate speech)* and 20 (offences against the dignity of a natural person)** of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 and sections 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 109 (abetment) and 500 (defamation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Section 10(a) is punishable by a jail term of up to 14 years or a fine of up to Rs50 million or both, Section 11 is punishable by a jail term of three years and/or a fine of Rs250,000, Section 20 is punishable by a jail term of up to two years and/or a fine of Rs1 million and Section 500 is punishable by a jail term of up to two years and or a fine.

The complainant has claimed that Jillani, as a guest on and producer of two Dunya News programmes, one on December 8, 2017 and another on March 18, 2019, made “defamatory remarks against the respected institutions of Pakistan”.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a press release on April 13 saying: “The FIR lodged against Mr Jilani under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016, accusing him of casting aspersions on state institutions, is baseless and absurd.” It added that: “HRCP also demands that the FIR against Mr Jilani be quashed: questioning a journalist’s ‘loyalty’ or ‘patriotism’ for having criticised state institutions must cease to be the norm.”

**Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Section 11 was for electronic forgery. An updated version of the law states this is “hate speech”. Section 20 was stated to be for “malicious code” which has been corrected to the updated “Offences against the dignity of a natural person”.

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