The Special Judge Central in Islamabad, also known as the FIA’s special court, has issued perpetual arrest warrants for Azam Khan Swati, a prominent leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). These warrants are in connection with controversial social media posts he made on platform X (formerly known as Twitter) in October of the previous year. The posts were directed at senior military officers, including the then-army chief.
Previous Arrests and Denial
Swati‘s legal troubles began last year when he was arrested twice, first in October and then in November. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) charged him in Islamabad for posts that were allegedly critical of state institutions. His second arrest on November 27, 2022, led to his detention for over a month. However, he secured post-arrest bail from the Islamabad High Court and was released in January of this year. In his bail petition, Swati vehemently denied making any posts that could be considered offensive.
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This case has seen three previous hearings in April, May, and June. Regrettably, Swati did not attend any of these proceedings. During the May hearing, non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against him, and his absence in the June hearing led to him being declared a proclaimed offender by the court.
Mr Bajwa congratulations to you and few with you . Your plan is really working and all criminals are getting free at cost of this country . With these thugs getting free You have legitimise corruption . How you predict now the future of this country ? pic.twitter.com/uZgHQjZ7lJ
— Senator Azam Khan Swati (@AzamKhanSwatiPk) October 12, 2022
In the latest development, Special Judge Central Shahrukh Arjumand issued a perpetual arrest warrant for Azam Khan Swati. This decision comes as a consequence of Swati’s repeated failure to attend the court hearings. The judge has ordered the FIA to arrest him on sight and present him before the court.
It is worth noting that Azam Khan Swati was implicated in the May 9 violence during a law enforcement crackdown against the PTI. Consequently, he was among the party leaders declared proclaimed offenders.
Arrests, Custodial Torture
Swati’s initial arrest by the FIA in October was on charges related to his controversial social media posts about the armed forces. He was later released on bail.
During his detention, Senator Swati alleged that he was subjected to torture. He also demanded the removal of two military officials, one of whom was the target of derogatory language in Swati’s tweet on November 26.
FIR and Legal Charges
Swati’s second arrest on November 27 was related to a “highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets” against state institutions. An FIR was registered by the FIA based on a complaint from the state through Islamabad Cyber Crime Reporting Centre Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman.
The charges against Swati include offenses under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), as well as Sections 131, 500, 501, 505, and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Media Coverage Restrictions
Following his November arrest, the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) imposed a ban on media coverage of Azam Khan Swati across all satellite TV channels.
These perpetual arrest warrants mark the latest development in Swati’s ongoing legal battles over his social media activity and outspoken stance against state institutions.