Thursday November 30, 2023

Social media law invoked: UK’s anti-terror police arrest ex-Pak army man

Authorities release him on bail after hours-long interrogation; continue the investigation

June 15, 2023
Undated photograph of Adil Raja. — @soldierspeaks
Undated photograph of Adil Raja. — @soldierspeaks

LONDON: Social media activist and YouTuber Major (retd) Adil Raja has been released on police bail after he was arrested by UK police on suspicions of encouraging acts of terrorism inside Pakistan, his lawyer has confirmed.

Mahtab Aziz, who represents Adil Raja, told this reporter as well as a media conference that Adil Raja has been released after he was arrested from his home and detained at a police station in relation to complaints filed by the Pakistan government with UK authorities. He was released after being questioned by the police. A police source said the investigation continues and no details will be made public at this stage.

Mahtab Aziz said: “In Pakistan, a serious terrorism-related warrant was issued against him. Such allegations are very serious. I came to know on Tuesday he has been arrested by the police. The manner Adil Raja has been arrested, I believe it falls under anti-terrorism laws. This doesn’t mean he’s guilty of terrorism, but this means the UK had to act against Adil Raja based on information and intelligence they received (from Pakistan).”

Mahtab Aziz said under the anti-terrorism laws, the UK police have to act if they get intelligence. He said the police take away all gadgets when they conduct raid in such cases. “I tried all his numbers but they were not working. He has been released, but there are certain conditions on social media use, even in some cases mobile phone use is banned.” A Pakistan-based diplomatic source said Adil Raja was arrested by counter-terrorism police on complaints made by Pakistani authorities that he was involved in incidents of incitement of violence, disorder and terrorism inside Pakistan using social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube, which has suspended Raja’s channel.

Adil Raja Tweeted on Wednesday afternoon informing he was well. He didn’t say anything about his arrest and release.

This reporter understands the UK government has received multiple complaints about Adil Raja from Pakistan, but the government increased pressure on the UK after May 9 attacks on Pakistan Army by PTI supporters.

The latest of these was regarding the riots of May 9, which were sparked after the PTI chief was arrested from the Islamabad High Court under a £190 million settlement case.

Raja and other activists raised hateful and anti-state sentiments via social media, the Pakistani government complained to UK authorities. The complaint added the vocal PTI worker had tried to destabilise the country by spreading fake news.

Adil Raja, who was once the spokesman of retired servicemen, reached UK over a year ago after Imran Khan’s government was voted out by the parliament. He became a vocal supporter of PTI and spoke out against the PDM government. It soon became clear that he didn’t see eye to eye with his former institution and started actively using social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

He got fame on YouTube and Twitter after he started publishing news, which became controversial and at times related directly to the serving military generals.

Adil Raja became an unapologetic critic of the Establishment and soon his following rocketed on YouTube where he hosted his show on daily basis and claimed to have inside news of the military ranks.

These news were often denied by the military sources but circulated widely on social media. He spoke with passion and like a firebrand, but erred into doing news and claims which were factually not correct and devoid of facts.

His issues with the state authorities became tense who accused him of publishing fake news on social media platforms for views and ratings, while Adil Raja maintained that he had sources who passed news to him.

Some of Adil Raja’s videos about alleged manoeuvrings in military and the government clocked millions of views.

Several complaints were filed against him by Pakistan authorities to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube over the last several months. Things came to a head when Pakistan Army came under violent attacks on May 9 by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists and leaders who stormed Army installations. Adil Raja featured prominently in the media warfare around the events leading up to May 9 and the aftermath where he challenged the state authorities openly. While Twitter took no action, YouTube and Facebook shut down Adil Raja’s channels around 10 days ago over complaints he had run fake news and was involved in encouraging acts of violence and disorder through use of his social media platforms.

It was over the same events that now the UK government has acted against him.

The UK Terrorism Act 2000 defines terrorism, both in and outside of the UK, as the use or threat of one or more of the actions including serious violence against a person; serious damage to property; endangering a person’s life; creating a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public; action designed to seriously interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system. The Terrorism Act 2006 (2006 Act) created a number of new offences. These new offences include the offences of encouragement of terrorism, dissemination of terrorist publications, an offence of the preparation of terrorist acts, and further terrorist training offences, terrorist threats relating to devices and materials or facilities.