LAHORE – Mostly women and children are being targeted by different types of criminals on social media websites and the authorities have failed to provide any relief to the victims so far.
A senior FIA official of the Cyber Crime Wing told The Nation that around 80 cases were lodged recently with the agency against those allegedly involved in cyber crimes. Whereas, he says, more than 40 million people were using social media throughout the country.
Last week, Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Cell took Haseeb Zahid into custody for allegedly posting objectionable content on the social media against former federal minister Firdous Ashiq Awan.
The man is behind the bars and has moved the court for his release on bail. Through his counsel Iftikhar Shahid, the suspect contended that the case against him was lodged on political grounds. He said the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 did not insist on arrest of any suspect without material evidence. Whereas, he said, the FIA arrested him first and then lodged the case.
The counsel stated that the agency had not obtained warrants from the competent court of law for the arrest of the petitioner. He prayed to the court to release the petitioner on bail.
The magistrate adjourned the hearing till June 19 after the counsel for the complainant sought time to prepare his arguments.
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan moved an application against the accused through her personal secretary, saying that the objectionable content posted by the accused against her on social media damaged her image and caused her mental agony.
In an identical matter, a judicial magistrate remanded a man into FIA’s custody on charges of hacking account of a woman and then blackmailing her.
FIA arrested Adeel Latif after Faiza Shaukat moved an application against him, alleging that he damaged her repute.
The officials produced the suspect in the court to seek his physical remand and pleaded that investigation found him guilty. They said they also recovered controversial data from him and requested his physical remand from the court for further investigation. The court allowed his two-day physical remand.
Another suspect, Abdul Wahab, is under trial on charges of blackmailing and harassing women on Facebook and other social media sites. Gowalmandi police have booked him on terrorism charges.
The Punjab Forensic Science Agency submitted a report to an Anti-Terrorism Court and claimed that over 2,000 objectionable pictures and videos were found in his personal laptop. The investigators said 108 CNICs/passports were also found in his possession.
Abdul Wahab, a resident of Layyah district, was arrested by the law enforcement agencies in April 2015. Around 200 women, including lady doctors, nurses of various hospitals, house officers and postgraduate trainees from King Edward Medical University, Fatima Jinnah Medical University and Children Hospital fell prey to his hacking skills.
Investigators say the accused used to trap lady doctors by accessing their mobile phone chats, pictures, WhatsApp chats, Viber contacts and Facebook accounts through various technologies. He used to call them for rendezvous at various restaurants and blackmail them by showing them their edited conversations/pictures, the investigators said.
They said the accused also used to deceive people by impersonating himself as an intelligence official.
In their report to the court, the officials said 428,322 graphics/pictures were analysed from the suspect’s laptop, but genuineness of not even a single picture could be established as per the standard operating procedure of the Audio Visual Analysis Department. They said the accused had allegedly destroyed the future of several lady doctors by giving their in-laws and other family members their video clips and photos.
In April, the FIA arrested Sadaat Amin from Sargodha on charges of misusing various sites, running business of pornographic pictures and videos and selling them to foreign buyers.
Over 600,000 child pornographic pictures and videos were recovered from his laptop, according to the FIA.
The accused said Jan Lindstorm, a Norwegian man, became his friend on the internet and he dragged him into this illegal business. He said that he asked him to help him search child model’s videos, download them and send to him. Lindstorm, the accused said, promised him that he would help him get citizenship of Norway if he would help him achieve his objective.
In April 2014, he bought the first album of child pornography to sell it to the Norwegian man and the price of the first album was €250 (euros). He sold it to Jan Lindstorm for €300, Sadaat said. Lindstorn became his trustworthy business partner later, he said.
Sadaat, who is a graduate from the Taxila University, confessed that he used to modify pictures and videos and sell them. The matter came into notice of the local authorities when Norwegian Embassy in Pakistan wrote a letter to the Interior Ministry. The ministry marked the investigation to the Federal Investigation Agency. The agency started investigation on the basis of the material provided by the embassy to trace the suspect.
The FIA claimed that it had traced $35,000 through Western Union transactions and investigation was under way to find out if the accused had more money. The FIA said the victims’ families did not speak up about the suspect’s role in trapping their children, but they said one thing was sure; children were the victims.
More than two months ago, citizen Zafar Iqbal approached the LHC, pleading that controversial and blasphemous material was available on the social websites in plenty, but authorities were doing nothing to remove it.
The petitioner said that despite clear orders of the court, blasphemous and controversial material was not removed from the social websites like YouTube and Facebook. He said if the government cannot remove it; it should ban the social media sites. He prayed to the court to take action against the government authorities responsible for this negligence.
After hearing arguments of the petitioner, Justice Atir Mahmood directed the authorities to remove the material from social media websites within four weeks. Would the court order be implemented?