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Journalist booked under Official Secrets Act

KARACHI, February 07,2005:The Mithadar police late on Saturday registered a case of violating the Official Secrets Act against Afzal Nadeem, senior reporter of the Daily Awam.

The FIR was lodged under section 3/5 of the Act for publishing a news item based upon a letter of the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) of the Federal Interior Ministry, police sources told The News.

The story, which appeared on February 5, quoted the NCMC letter, dispatched to the chief secretaries, home secretaries provincial police officers (PPOs) of all the four provinces, Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas, besides the IGP Islamabad, regarding forcible collection of funds.

Meanwhile, the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) has strongly condemned the registration case against a senior reporter of Daily Awam Afzal Nadeem, under the alleged black law, ‘Official Secrets Act’, for publishing a story based on the letter of National Crisis Management Cell, says a KUJ press release.

KUJ President Mazhar Abbas and General-Secretary Fazil Jamili in a statement termed the case a move against the freedom of the press. They said that the story was based on a letter (copy of which was available) written by the head of NCMC, Lt-Col Farooq Marwat, to the high officials. The case was registered on behalf of the State and the FIR was sealed.

The KUJ leaders said irrespective of the content of the letter, the fact remained that it was a news for any reporter and the credit went to the one who had published it. The KUJ while demanding withdrawal of the case against the reporter also called for abolishing all black laws against the press.

APP adds: A spokesman of Sindh Home Department, on Sunday clarified a news item appearing in a section of the press alleging forcible collection of donations for the tsunami Fund. “The TPOs of former district central viz New Karachi, North Nazimabad, Gulberg and Liaquatabad Towns have inquired into the matter.

The inquiry has revealed that there was no forcible collection of cash donations from shopkeepers, marriage halls or any other business concern. The camps were organised by the Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation. All the camps were provided police protection on the request of the organisers. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
Source: The News