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FIA Assistant Director Suspended For Acting As Spokesman Without Permission

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The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cybercrime Wing has suspended its assistant director Muhammad Asif Iqbal for acting as a spokesperson for the cybercrime department without the permission of the department.

An order issued by FIA Director (cybercrime wing) Amir Farooqi said: “Service of Muhammad Asif Iqbal, assistant director/senior investigator (BPS-17) cybercrime reporting centre Lahore is hereby placed under suspension with immediate effect till further orders.”

Dawn newspaper reported that the order did not mention any reasons for the suspension of the officer. The assistant director wasn’t even issued a show-cause notice before his suspension, it added.

Reacting to the report in the newspaper, the FIA said AD Asif Iqbal was suspended for ‘maintaining a private twitter account bearing CCW (cybercrime wing) and acting as the spokesperson of the department without permission’. “He was acting as the spokesman of Cyber Crime Wing without permission which is against disciplinary rules,” the spokesperson added.

Earlier, Dawn reported that Iqbal was ‘suspended on the basis of a tweet he made to explain Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Media Crimes Act 2016, related to the case against Ms Shafi and others’.

After Shafi and others were booked under cybercrime law, Iqbal updated status on Twitter, explaining the cybercrime act. “Whoever publicly exhibits false information that harms the reputation of a person, is [committing] a crime U/S 20 of Cybercrime Act,” he tweeted.

It further states in Urdu language that the law prescribes three years imprisonment or one million fine, or both, for a person involved in propagation of fake news through social media that harms the reputation of another person.

In 2018, Meesha had accused Ali of harassing her “on more than two occasions”. In response, Zafar had filed a defamation suit worth Rs1 billion against her. Then in September 2019, Meesha had filed a Rs2 billion damages suit against Ali for making false allegations against her on media.

In July this year, Iqbal had blamed women for an increase in the cases of sexual harassment against women in online spaces. According to the FIA official, the crimes pertaining to the release of indecent pictures and videos of women on the internet cannot be curtailed unless women stop participating in such acts.

He said the FIA arrests the suspects for such acts, but the complainants and the accused usually reach an understanding and the case is closed. He went on to question why the women give permission for such pictures.

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