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Controversial YouTuber Imran Riaz Arrested Again At Lahore Airport

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LAHORE: Controversial anchorperson and YouTuber Imran Riaz Khan was apprehended early Wednesday morning at Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport while attempting to depart for Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. His lawyer, Advocate Azhar Siddique, stated that Riaz was arrested by unidentified individuals accompanied by law enforcement personnel, leading to a scuffle at the airport.

Imran Riaz Khan, known for his provocative statements and contentious relationship with Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, has a history of legal issues. His latest arrest comes as he was about to leave for Hajj, sparking another round of legal battles. Advocate Siddique has filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking details of the first information report (FIR) under which Riaz was detained. The petition asserts that Riaz was arrested without explanation and transferred to an undisclosed location by plainclothes officers from various authorities.

“No information has been provided regarding the FIR used for the applicant’s arrest on the night of June 11, 2024,” the petition states. It requests the court to summon the police, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Secretary Interior, and the Anti-Corruption Establishment to disclose the FIRs registered against Riaz, leading to his “unlawful and arbitrary arrest.” The petition also notes that Riaz’s name was removed from the Exit Control List (ECL) on Tuesday.

This arrest marks Riaz’s fifth in a year, reflecting his frequent run-ins with the law. He was previously detained in connection with a corruption case involving the Dharabi Lake contract in Chakwal and later rearrested for his alleged involvement in violence outside PTI founder Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence. His repeated arrests have raised questions about his conduct and the legitimacy of his activities.

Riaz was produced in the Model Town lower court of Judicial Magistrate Kamran Zafar on Wednesday afternoon. “We are told he [Imran Riaz] is arrested in a case registered against him in Lahore Model Town,” Siddique told Arab News. A habeas corpus petition has been moved in the LHC and is expected to be heard soon.

Imran Riaz has leveraged his platform on social media to criticize the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies, particularly following the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. His outspoken nature has often put him at odds with authorities, resulting in numerous legal challenges. Earlier this year, he was detained over an alleged anti-judiciary campaign on social media, further complicating his legal standing.

While human rights groups accuse Pakistani security agencies of targeting political workers, leaders, and rights activists, Imran Riaz’s case stands out due to his confrontational approach and the nature of his accusations against state institutions. Pakistan’s media landscape, already fraught with challenges, has seen figures like Riaz pushing boundaries, sometimes at the cost of legal repercussions.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by Imran Khan, condemned Riaz’s arrest, calling it “absolutely condemnable” and demanding his immediate release. “Is going to Hajj now considered a crime in Pakistan?” the PTI questioned in a post on X (formerly Twitter). However, critics argue that Riaz’s frequent arrests are a result of his own provocative actions and disregard for legal boundaries.

Imran Riaz’s arrests have repeatedly stirred public and media attention. In May 2023, he was detained two days after violent protests erupted following Imran Khan’s arrest, and he was last known to be taken to Cantt police station and later to Sialkot prison. His whereabouts remained unknown for months, prompting his father to file an abduction report and plea in the LHC for his recovery.

The LHC had ordered several agencies to work together to locate and present Riaz in court, a directive that eventually led to his release on September 25, 2023, after more than four months in custody without any clear explanation from the authorities.

As the legal proceedings continue, the court has yet to determine the specific charges against Riaz, but his repeated detentions underscore the contentious nature of his activities and the broader implications for media freedom and legal accountability in Pakistan.

Imran Riaz Khan, YouTuber, arrest, Lahore airport, legal issues, Hajj pilgrimage, Pakistan, Lahore High Court, FIR, PTI, media freedom, Imran Khan, controversy, law enforcement, social media, human rights.

 

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