An anti-terrorism court in Karachi sentenced journalist Nasarullah Chaudhry to five years in prison on 21 December for possessing “information against Pakistan” and “spreading religious hatred.”
Judge Muneer Bhutto of the anti-terrorism court no VI heard the case.
Nasarullah, who worked for Nai Baat, was convicted of having Jihad literature and books critical of the “Pakistan Army and Government.”
He was detained on November 11, 2018 near the Holy Family Hospital in Karachi. Police claimed they had confiscated from him a “black bag” containing 11 books. These included four Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad magazines, as well as two novels, Rah-e-Jihad and Taliban Punjabi.
He was sentenced to imprisonment under ATA Section 11 W(a). The law includes the printing, publication and sharing of any content that incites hatred.
Nasarullah was sentenced to five years ‘ imprisonment and ordered to pay a Rs10,000 fine.
In the event that he does not pay up his sentence will be extended by one month.
The court also sentenced Rs5,000 to six months in prison for spreading “religious hatred.” The sentences are going to run at the same time.
Three witnesses, all policemen including SIP Muhammad Asim, HC Mehboob Hussain, and Inspector Ali Haider, recorded their statements in the court. The three claimed to have taken a “black bag” from the hands of the journalist.
The prosecution even claimed that Nasarullah was “well connected” with Khalid Makashi, an Al-Qaeda terrorist. The witnesses have also assisted the argument of the prosecution and blamed the accused, the court order states. On the other side, Nasrullah denied the allegations, claiming the witnesses “have wrongly deposed in favor of law enforcement agencies.”
He said that he was not guilty, adding that his daughter’s bag that had her assignment papers had been taken away by law enforcement agencies and then revealed that it had been retrieved from me.”
His counsel, Muhammad Farooq, claimed that his client was arrested against the law enforcement agencies ‘ assertion on November 9, 2019.
“Such news [of Narasullah’s arrest] was published in the Washington Post and Daily Mail, UK, so also the press club also issued a press release regarding the arrest of [the journalist] at the hands of law enforcing agency prior to the date of his alleged arrest shown in the FIR,” the lawyer said.
“The IO did not collect any proof in its report against the accused being a member or sponsor of any proscribed group as he is a professional journalist,” the lawyer argued, adding that his client has no criminal record and that there is no direct evidence against him.
Nevertheless, the judge ruled that “the prosecution proved beyond the shadow of a doubt the guilt of the accused Nasarullah.”
The journalist is now going to finish his sentence at the Karachi Central Prison.