Muhammad Bilal Ghouri
FOE Link or motive by PPFConfirmed
Case Update Status
On 25th June, 2021 Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah suspended the FIA’s notice issued to Bilal Ghauri.
Summary of Case
" On 25 June, 2021 M. Waseem Sikandar, a sub-inspector at the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Reporting Centre in Islamabad, issued a summons for Youtuber Bilal Ghauri to appear for questioning regarding alleged “defamation through social media via Youtube,” according to a copy of the summons, which CPJ reviewed, and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
The summons states that it was issued in response to a complaint by Syed Abbas Mohiuddin, a former member of the Provincial Assembly of Attock District, but does not describe the specific defamation allegations.
Ghauri, who publishes political commentary on his YouTube channel, which has about 90,000 subscribers and previously worked as a contributor to the Urdu-language newspaper The Daily Jang, told CPJ that he believed the complaint was likely issued in response to a video series he aired from 2019 to 2020 about Pakistan’s army chiefs.
“Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency needs to accept that critical coverage of key state institutions, including the army, is an essential aspect of democracy and press freedom,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Authorities should stop harassing Muhammad Bilal Ghauri, cease summoning him for questioning, and allow him and other journalists to report freely.”
Ghauri told CPJ that he previously received a summons on June 16 for questioning yesterday. In that summons, which CPJ reviewed, authorities did not specify the allegations against Ghauri or who made them. Ghauri said he sent his lawyer in his place, who told authorities that the journalist would only appear for questioning if authorities supplied more information about the allegations.
Ghauri told CPJ that he spoke to Sikandar over the phone on June 16, and said the officer described the YouTube series about Pakistan’s army chiefs as “problematic,” but refused to disclose further details regarding the complaint.
Ghauri said he plans to challenge today’s summons before the Islamabad High Court, and said if the court did not drop the order, then he would appear for questioning on June 25.
Ghauri told CPJ that he has been on indefinite leave from The Daily Jang since May 5, and said he believed that military personnel had pressured the newspaper into dropping his work. CPJ emailed the newspaper for comment but did not immediately receive any reply.
Previously, in 2019, individuals who identified themselves as members of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency repeatedly called Ghauri and told him to stop talking about “sensitive issues” on his YouTube channel, and specifically cited his reporting on military chiefs, the journalist told CPJ.
Ghauri also said that three individuals who identified themselves as members of the intelligence agency visited his brother’s home in the village of Zarif Shaheed on July 31, 2019, and urged him to tell Ghauri to stop criticizing the army in Daily Jang and on YouTube.
On 25th June, 2021 Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah suspended the FIA’s notice issued to journalist Bilal Ghauri. The court summoned the director Cyber Crime Wing on June 30 in person.
The chief justice sought an explanation from the FIA for not implementing an order issued in November last year related to summoning the accused in cyber crime cases.
Justice Minallah had advised the FIA to summon a citizen after completing the homework and should explain the nature and details of the complaint in the call-up notice.
Imaan Zainab Mazari and Usman Warraich advocates represented Mr Ghauri.
Ms Mazari argued that the FIA was misusing Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca). She told the court that the FIA had summoned Mr Ghauri without informing him about any reason.
Justice Minallah remarked that prima facie the FIA is violating the directions issued by the IHC.
He clubbed all the identical petitions and adjourned the matter for June 30."
Category of Incident
ICCS Divisions: 0803-Acts related to freedom of expression or control of expression
ICCS Group: 08039-Other acts related to freedom of expression or control of expression
ICCS Class: N/A
ICCS Crime: Acts related to freedom of expression or control of expression
Date of incident
Name of affected person
Muhammad Bilal Ghouri
Other affected persons
No other Person affected
Name of affected organization
No organization affected as He is a Youtuber
Other affected organizations
No other organization affected
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)
Age of victim
Amount of compensation announced by government: No compensation announced
Date of compensation announcement by government: No compensation announced
Date of compensation paid by government: No compensation announced
Amount of compensation announced by others: No compensation announced
Date of compensation announced by others: No compensation announced
Date compensation paid by others: No compensation announced
Was FIR registered ?: No
Was case investigated ?: Under Investigation
Court where case was presented: Islamabad High Court
Name of prosecuting lawyer: Imaan Zainab Mazari and Usman Warraich
Date of first court hearing: 25/06/2021
Date of last court hearing: 25/06/2021
Status of court case: Court suspended the FIA’s notice
Journalist Union Status
Media Source Status
Colleague of victim
Press Club Status
Press club 1: N/A
Press club 2:
Press club 3: