A local Islamabad court sent journalist Shahid Aslam — an investigative reporter suspected of leaking the tax data of former army chief General (retired) Qamar Javed Bajwa’s family members — to jail on judicial remand. The court’s orders came in rejection to the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) plea seeking an extension in the journalist’s physical remand.
The agency had presented Shahid Aslam in the court of judicial magistrate Umar Shabbir after the completion of his two-day physical remand, which the court had granted to the FIA on 14 January.
The FIA’s investigation officer, prosecutor Zulfiqar Naqvi, and the journalist’s legal counsel Mian Ashfaque appeared in the court, where Aslam’s family was also present.
During Monday’s hearing, the court questioned the FIA’s investigating officer regarding the case. The officer said that Aslam did not give the password of his laptop, and was not forthcoming with his answers. “Shahid Aslam was asked to cooperate and give the password, however, he refused,” said the IO.
He said that the laptop has been sent to the data forensics department to acquire the password, and the forensics experts had said that they will retrieve the password in some days.
The prosecutor claimed that Aslam had confessed he was taking data from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) of Pakistan. “The suspect has admitted to visiting the FBR to get the information,” he informed the court. The prosecutor added that the FIA required the custody of the journalist to complete the investigation.
Meanwhile, the defense counsel requested the court to discharge the journalist from the case. He said that Aslam’s WhatsApp status was “online” yesterday and the day before. “Aslam didn’t have his mobile phone, so how did the FIA officials access his phone when they didn’t have the password,” he asked.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the court sent the journalist to jail on judicial remand, and rejected the FIA’s plea for an extending his physical remand. The court’s verdict said that the FIA’s reasons for extending the journalist’s physical remand were not satisfactory.
The judge ordered the FIA to produce Aslam before the court again on 30 January.