A court in Lahore has issued a non-bailable warrant against Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida for leaking sensitive material in news reports he has written.
Almeida is also in trouble along with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for 'defaming the country' in an interview conducted in May 2018.
The former prime minister has a case petitioned against him for some of his remarks regarding the Mumbai terror attacks. He had said that the army could have handled the situation better and that the attack could have been stopped.
Cyril Almeida is the assistant editor of Pakistani newspaper Dawn. After failing to appear in front of the court three consecutive times, he has been placed on the no-fly list, according to Express Tribune.
Almeida has written many controversial pieces which got him into trouble with the armed forces. In 2016, he had written an article regarding the India-Pakistan military rift. In his article, he had said that there was tension between Pakistan's civilian and military leadership. This got him into trouble with the military and he was barred from leaving the country.
The court has directed Almeida to be present for the next hearing which is set for October 8.
He tweeted, "Spoke to the lawyer, there is a warrant, am back on the ECL and will have to appear before the court on Oct 8... how's your Monday been?."
Spoke to the lawyer, there is a warrant, am back on the ECL and will have to appear before the court on Oct 8... how's your Monday been? ?— cyril almeida (@cyalm) September 24, 2018
Former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have also been summoned to appear before the court on the same day.
"In this view of the matter, we are left with no option except to issue non-bailable warrants of arrest against Cyril Almeida...Keeping in view the past conduct of the respondent, we have been persuaded to direct that his name shall be placed in Exit Control List forthwith," the written order said according to the Indian Express.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed its displeasure over Almeida's arrest warrant.
According to the Daily Times, the HRCP said, "Mr. Almeida, a widely read and highly respected journalist, is being hounded for nothing more than doing his job – speaking on the record to a political figure and reporting the facts. As a law-abiding citizen, Mr. Almeida has no reason not to appear before the court as directed. Placing him on the Exit Control List (ECL) and issuing a non-bailable warrant is an excessive measure".
It added "The ease with which Mr. Almeida's interview with the former Prime Minister was perceived as an attempt to allegedly defame state institutions, and the pace at which this has spiraled into charges of treason, only serve to further choke press freedom in Pakistan. Journalism – sensible, rational, independent journalism – is not a crime. It most certainly is not treason. HRCP strongly urges the honourable court to give Mr. Almeida the opportunity to appear at the scheduled hearing and to have his name removed from the ECL immediately."