Wednesday April 17, 2024

Court orders FIA to initiate probe against Cynthia Ritchie

By Obaid Abrar Khan
June 16, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A Sessions Court, Islamabad on Monday has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct an inquiry against US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie for allegedly defaming former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on social media.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Jahangir Awan released the order on a petition filed by PPP leader Advocate Raja Shakeel Abbasi. During hearing the judge observed that Ritchie did not deny that she had posted the tweet, and therefore, a crime was committed falling under Peca Act 2016". The FIA was, therefore, competent authority to probe the matter further in accordance with the law.

The court further remarked that FIA has been directed to proceed in accordance with the law, conduct an inquiry and if there is sufficient material, register an FIR.

The judge also observed that the allegations levelled against former PM Benazir were made 12 years after the PPP leader's assassination. The judge said that the US blogger “never agitated this fact before any competent authority and even not disclosed on the media”.

The judge also observed that this stage after the lapse of 12 years her disclosure to malign the character of a deceased leader was apparently based on mala fide. The FIA had earlier argued that under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, only “aggrieved” persons were qualified to file such a petition, the verdict said, explaining that in the present scenario, word 'aggrieved' was used instead of “legal heirs”. The court had held that Benazir was “leader of millions and ex-prime minister of Pakistan, thus anyone from her followers can be treated as an aggrieved person”. Earlier, Ritchie’s counsel had argued that the tweet by her client was fake. But she said later that her lawyer misrepresented her by telling the court that the tweet was fake.

“I never said my tweets were fake,” Ritchie tweeted, pointing out that Khan was suddenly demanding Rs2 million from her. “We were supposed to file a criminal report today against Rehman Malik. Now, suddenly Mr Khan is demanding Rs2 million from me even though this matter was managed by a 3rd party,” said the US blogger. Earlier, the FIA had refused to lodge FIR against Ritchie when PPP leader Advocate Raja Shakeel Abbasi approached the agency over her hateful comments and slander against Benazir Bhutto. Abbasi said she had posted on Twitter “very derogatory and slanderous remarks” about Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari’s marital life.