ISLAMABAD, 20 NOVEMBER 2017: FIA’s cyber crime wing has reportedly ‘summoned’ a renowned journalist and an anchorperson of Dawn News TV Mubashar Zaidi to appear before them on November 21.
Mubashir Zaidi was ‘told to appear’ before FIA over the phone by an official. However, he had not received a legal notice until the time of filing this report.
In addition to a phone call, a twitter account named ‘Cyber Crime Circle Islamabad Zone’ using twitter handle ‘@NR3C_isb’ posted a copy of the “Order to Attendance” on its timeline tagging Mubashir Zaidi’s twitter account. @NR3C_isb also tagged another account, of one Fauzia Yazdani, to appear before FIA.
— Cyber Crime Circle Islamabad Zone (@NR3C_isbzone) November 17, 2017
Meanwhile, Mubashar Zaidi while talking to this scribe expressed annoyance at the way he was asked to appear before FIA. “I received a call from FIA officer asking to appear before them on November 21. When I asked why I was told that a complaint had been lodged against me. No more details were shared”, he said.
Zaidi also shared that the FIA officer insisted that he should ‘not’ wait for the legal notice to be served physically. “When I asked him how I could appear without receiving a valid legal notice, I was told that notice shall be served later on. He also said that the notice could not be served because of a wrong mailing address. I said how can it be possible? You could have called me”.
When asked whether he planned to appear before the FIA despite that no legal notice was served, he replied in affirmative.
Meanwhile, Digital Rights Activist and founder of Digital Rights Foundation Nighat Dad noted with concern the practice of serving notice through twitter.
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) November 18, 2017
On the other, a correspondent of Digital Rights Monitor reached out to Federal Investigative Agency to confirm the authenticity of the Twitter account used to issue the aforementioned summons. However, FIA officials noted that they were unaware of any such twitter account.
Its important mention here that the Twitter account [@NR3C_isb] used to post the summons of Mubashir Zaidi has a grand total of 3 tweets to date and is not officially verified by Twitter.
Earlier this year, an Islamabad-based journalist, Taha Siddiqi also received a similar summon by FIA though a phone call for his social media activity.
— Taha Siddiqui (@TahaSSiddiqui) May 22, 2017
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.