Lahore: A man has been arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency, FIA cybercrime wing from Dina for allegedly running online smear campaign against PTI’s Central Information Secretary Fawad Chaudhary.
According to a news report published on local website Jhelum Updates and also shared by Fawad Chaudhary on his social media account, the man named Muhammad Haroon was running smear campaign on Facebook against the PTI leader.
Later, on the complaint of Mr.Chaudhary, the accused was arrested by FIA, Lahore.
Quoting FIA cybercrime wing Deputy Director Khalid Anees, Dawn reported that the accused was a “PML-N supporter” and allegedly running a Facebook page called “Ro Imran Ro” to defame PTI leaders including Fawad Chaudhary.
“The suspect posted malicious content against PTI leaders including fake posts of Mr Chaudhry related to Mumtaz Qadri, who killed Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, and it could have endangered his life,” told Mr. Anees while talking to Dawn but added that the accused did not receive any money and was doing it out of his love for PML-N.
Meanwhile, sharing the link of this news report on his twitter account, Fawad Chaudhary thanked FIA and confirmed that the person was involved in spreading false information using fake ID.
جعلی ID سے جعلی پوسٹس کرنے والے یہ نہیں جانتے کہ مذہب اور عقیدہ کا مذاق بنانا نا قابل قبول ہے اس شخص نے انتہائ نا مناسب پوسٹس بنائیں اور میرے نام سے سوشل میڈیا پر لگائیں اس کا مقصد میری کردار کشی تھا لیکن اس کے ساتھ ہزاروں لوگوں کی دل آزاری ہوئ FIA لاہور کا شکریہ pic.twitter.com/XpRLyQmInv
— Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) July 3, 2018
Later, while exclusively talking to DRM, Fawad shared that the accused was a Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) worker, allegedly involved in defaming him and PTI through a Facebook page called “Ro Imran Ro.”
Mr. Chaudhary stated that the accused had shared information attributed to him that was completely false. “The man had posted such dangerous material and accused me of saying bad things about religious groups or religion using his fake ID.”
When asked when did he first come to know about this page, Mr. Fawad said that these smear campaigns had just begun ahead of elections. He further stated that the accused had been arrested two to three weeks after he launched a complaint with FIA.
Reflecting on the use of social media for defamation, the PTI leader said that in Pakistan religion was a sensitive matter and often people would not verify information available on social media.
Noting that the posts wrongly attributed to him could have life threatening implications, Mr. Chaudhary said: “By sharing dangerous material attributed to me, the person tried to kill me.”
Responding to the criticism that PTI social media had been repeatedly accused of running smear campaigns, Mr.Fawad acknowledged that no one should be the victim of such campaigns irrespective of any political party. He added that PTI only had control over their official social media team and that they could not control everyone unofficially contributing towards PTI’s social media narrative. “This is an enforcement of law issue,” he said indicating that political parties could not control them alone.
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.