PTM activist Hayat Preghal released from jail


Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) activist Hayat Preghal was finally released on Wednesday after he was incarcerated for posting ‘anti-state’ content on social media.

PTM leader and MNA Mohsin Dawar confirmed the news on his official Twitter account. He wrote, “Congratulations and Welcome to our hero Hayat Preghal, you are now a symbol of patience and resistance for Pukhtun youth. I wish I would have been there to welcome you! Stay safe and stay blessed.”

The news was also shared by Amnesty International on their Twitter handle for South Asia. “Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, human rights defender Hayat Preghal is released from jail in Pakistan. He was arrested for expressing his political views on social media.”

On September 26, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ordered to release Preghal, who was booked under Pakistan Cyber Crime Act for posting ‘anti-state’ content on social media.

“Islamabad High Court has finally ordered to release Hayat Preghal on bail,” PTM leader and MNA Mohsin Dawar had announced in a statement on his Twitter. He also thanked those who had supported PTM in Preghal’s case.

Earlier, a single-member bench of the IHC comprising Justice Amir Farooq had reserved judgement on a petition seeking the release of the PTM activist. During the hearing, defence counsel Babar Awan had opposed the contents of the FIR and said his client was innocent and wrongly implicated in the case.

He had argued that no material was recovered during the investigation from the possession of his client nor was the accused “directly nominated in the FIR”, while requesting the court to grant bail.

The FIR registered with the police does not mention Hayat by name but includes URLs to social media posts he made from his Twitter and Facebook accounts. These accounts and Hayat’s mobile phone, laptop and USB were accessed by the FIA’s Cyber Crime Unit during his detention.

However, the court that was supposed to announce the verdict, had reserved it instead.

Hayat is the social media lead for the PTM and was detained from his house in Dera Ismail Khan on July 5, 2018, while visiting family during holidays from the UAE, where he works as a pharmacist.

The authorities did not provide any information about his fate and whereabouts until six days later, when he called his family and told them he was arrested by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

His family only discovered his whereabouts when he was permitted to call them on the afternoon of July 11, 2018. Besides HRCP, Amnesty International also called for the release of the social media activist.