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IHC summons DG IB, DG FIA in audio leak case

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has summoned Director-General of Intelligence Bureau (DG IB) and Director-General of Federal Investigation Agency (DG FIA) for February 19 in connection with the ongoing audio leaks case.

Justice Babar Sattar of the IHC passed the order.

In a seven-page written order, the court directed both the DGs to personally appear on February 19, 2024, to address matters related to the audio leaks case.

The Attorney General informed the court that the federal government has not granted permission to any intelligence agency for recording phone calls. Stressing the significance of safeguarding the privacy and rights of citizens, the Attorney General emphasized the need for protection.

The court raised questions about the source of the released audio leaks on social media and provides the FIA with time to respond.

The FIA had sought additional time for a response.

The court directed the FIA to submit a detailed report, including information about social media accounts that shared the audio leaks. It also directed the IB to explain the mechanisms of surveillance and recording of phone calls.

The IHC noted that the ISI conducted an inquiry into the audio leaks through the Ministry of Defense. According to the report, ISI lacked the technology to ascertain the source of shared information on social media. The court also  asked the IB to conduct an inquiry and submit a report on the social media accounts through which the audio leaks were disseminated.

The order also demanded details of social media accounts sharing illegally recorded calls. The DG IB is required to explain who can conduct surveillance on citizens in Pakistan and whether the state has the capability to remain secure from illegal surveillance.

The court deemed it necessary for the Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to appear in person in the next hearing.

The Chairman, along with members, is expected to brief the court on steps that can be taken to secure calls and data of mobile phone users. The Chairman and members of PTA are required to submit sworn statements verifying the accuracy of the report.

The court emphasized inclusion of all mobile phone operators in the response, forming a party for legal intervention in recording or listening to telephone calls.

The PTA, intelligence agencies, or law enforcement agencies were directed to inform the court in writing about the procedures for sharing user data.